Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Northern Ireland Courts And Tribunals Service would like to place cookies on your computer to help make this website better. To find out more about the cookies, see our Privacy Policy.

Heritage Tour - Royal Courts of Justice

This is an image of the RCJ

Royal Courts of Justice
(Grade A listed building

The Royal Courts of Justice exercises jurisdiction throughout Northern Ireland and was designed by Mr J G West OBE. It houses the Court of Judicature, which consists of the Court of Appeal, High Court and Crown Court and was opened by His Grace The Duke of Abercorn, Governor of Northern Ireland, on the 31st May 1933.

The Chief Architect was Sir Richard Allison CBE, FRIBA and the principal contractors were Messrs. Stewart & partners of Belfast.

This is an image of the RCJ This is an image of the exterior of the RCJ This is an image of the exterior of the RCJ

Exterior

Designed in a style intended to convey the dignity and tradition of the law, the Royal Courts of Justice follows the recessional-imperial style of architecture, the front of the building provides an imposing facade of 13 bays, the end bays projecting, the central three bays recessed to form a porch. The first three storeys of the building are articulated by a row of giant Corinthian columns free-standing at the porch. Portland stone was used on all facades towards the roadways, while internal facades were faced with local facing bricks and Irish granite was used for external steps, curbs and pavings. The proximity of the site to the River Lagan necessitated the driving of 1,153 reinforced concrete plies through the upper strata to set in the stiff clay at an average depth of 40 feet below the surface.

Interior - Central Hall

The central hall measures 140 feet long and 30 feet high and is panelled from floor to ceiling in Travertine marble; articulated with composite pilasters and has a coffered ceiling with lanterns hanging at various points. The hall comes to life every morning and afternoon as counsel and clients negotiate and prepare for their time to be heard in court.

This is an image of the Great Hall in the RCJ This is an image of the Central Hall in the RCJ

The marble coats of arms at either end of the hall are carved with admirable clarity. Travertine marble from Italy was used for the walls and floors of the vestibules and the Great Hall. Internal facades were faced with local facing bricks. War memorials created and etched in marble pay tribute to those members of the bar and the solicitors' profession killed in the first and second world war.

This is an image of the Central Hall in the RCJ This is an image of the Central Hall in the RCJ This is an image of a courtroom in the RCJ This is an image of a courtroom in the RCJ

Courtrooms

The courtrooms themselves are very traditionally panelled throughout in empire teak, effecting an imposing ambience. The original cork flooring has been replaced by a modern covering of carpet. The jury box also panelled in teak is seated in red leather and is positioned at the side of the court looking on an impressively carved backdrop to the Judicial bench.

This is an image of a courtroom in the RCJ This is an image of a courtroom in the RCJ
This is an image of the library in the RCJ This is an image of the library in the RCJ This is an image of the corridor in the RCJ

The walls of the corridor of justice are lined with library texts containing knowledge amassed over the centuries, effecting confidence and assurance that judicial decision is based in a knowledge intensive environment and that the administration of Justice is based on knowledge and wisdom gained through the years.

Refurbishment of the building through the years has added a public refreshment bar, introduced a public address system and an Induction Loop system for hearing aid users in the four main courtrooms. As we move forward into the 21st century further renovations will take place to bring modern functionality to this historic building.

This is an image of the exterior of the RCJ This is an image of the interior of the RCJ

The Royal Courts of Justice building was designed primarily to accommodate not only courts and offices in connection with the courts but also a Bar Library, the Incorporated Law Society, a Post Office and other government departments. The passage of time has seen the re-location of many of the government departments and the Law Society and in 1989 the Law Courts Post Office closed its doors for the last time. The Post Office situated beside the main building became the Court Funds Office but has since been restored by the Northern Ireland Court Service and is now the central entrance and security point for the Royal Courts of Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions in Belfast.

Back to main Heritage page