Christchurch law firm urges its clients to stay local

By Kelly Gregor

Many businesses are moving into temporary premises on the outskirts of Christchurch, while some are moving into the suburbs. Photo / Dean Purcell
Many businesses are moving into temporary premises on the outskirts of Christchurch, while some are moving into the suburbs. Photo / Dean Purcell

Christchurch law firm Duncan Cotterill is open for business and wants clients to stay local instead of seeking advice from outside of Canterbury, says chief executive Janice Fredric.

The Christchurch founded firm moved into new offices at the weekend and has been operational during the past two weeks.

Fredric said it was disheartening to hear that clients were going outside of Christchurch because there was a misconception the local firms "couldn't handle" it.

Duncan Cotterill's Christchurch office has been red stickered and it is likely to be months before that office or another centrally based office is ready to move into.

"Our clients are receiving good advice [from Christchurch], she said.

"Christchurch wants to be able to handle the work. It's soul destroying when people go elsewhere.

We're operating. We need business to re-establish itself here."

Fredric said 35 staff members were rescued from the building after stairwells collapsed during the earthquake two weeks ago.

"Builders who were working on renovations from the previous earthquake worked with firefighters to get some people out. There was water streaming down [the stairs] and there were loose electrical wires. Two staircases had collapsed at various stages [throughout the levels].

"We don't know the state of it. The stairwells failed."

Fredric was in Auckland when the earthquake hit and was horrified when she saw the TV images of the aftermath.

"I just wanted to get home."

She said the firm, which has offices around New Zealand and in Sydney, was very fortunate nobody was hurt but many staff members have had homes badly damaged.

Many businesses are moving into temporary premises on the outskirts of Christchurch, while some are moving into the suburbs. It was hard to say what the future Christchurch would look like but she predicted many businesses that left the CBD would not return.

"It's hard to know what shape it will take. It's going to take years but some businesses will move back."

During the first week the other offices in New Zealand helped the Christchurch branch out with the workload. Fredric said the firm was lucky to have offices around the country that could offer support to their Christchurch colleagues but also to their clients.

But they want their clients to know they have new offices and will be fully operational today.

From a business perspective the firm is receiving a lot of inquiries relating to business interruption insurance. To help people out the firm has posted a fact sheet to its website, which includes lease and supply service agreements.

* Ballantynes department store in an advertisement at the weekend said it was "absolutely committed" to remaining as a cornerstone of inner city retail for Christchurch.

It said the board and management were meeting regularly to review the current status and consider plans for future operations.

- NZ Herald

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