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Courts 'neglected'

A prominent Victorian legal figure has described Shepparton's Law Courts as an example of the state's 'neglected' country courts.

FIONA BROOM December 29, 2012 4:40am

The president of Victoria’s law institute has supported calls for a new court complex in Shepparton.

Mildura-based lawyer Michael Holcroft said the outdated Shepparton Law Courts needed to be replaced with a facility that could properly serve the community.

He said the institute, acknowledged as the leader of the legal profession in Victoria, had been alerted to issues surrounding the complex by successive Shepparton lawyers who served as president — David Faram in 2002 and Danny Barlow in 2009.

Mr Holcroft noted the Bendigo and Wangaratta courts were also dilapidated.

But the Victorian Government has provided funding to upgrade and refurbish both complexes.

‘‘The country courts have been neglected for too long, Shepparton is an obvious one,’’ Mr Holcroft said.

‘‘(The institute) has been lobbying for quite a while to get the government to bring Shepparton up to the 21st century.’’

He said he hadn’t practised at Shepparton for many years, but he didn’t think the court complex had changed much.

Modernising Shepparton’s facilities was vital for the proper administration of the law, Mr Holcroft said.

‘‘There are difficulties with consulting rooms, difficulties with lack of security, difficulties with what happens with prisoners in custody,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not set up for the way law is practised today.

‘‘It would need to be fairly substantially renovated, but starting again is probably the best option.

‘‘That way you can build to best practice now and you’ve got a community asset that hopefully serves for the next 50 years.’’

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