Advanced Diploma in Quasi–Judicial Decision–Making

COVID–19 Changes

Course materials and lectures will be available via our accessible Virtual Learning Environment. Students will also have access to a range of online legal databases and resources.

King’s Inns has the capacity to run all classes for the entire academic year using online learning systems if needs be and has invested in technology and training in order to ensure that the student learning experience during 2020–2021 will remain at the highest possible standard, whether teaching takes place online or in person.

In order to ensure the safety of students and staff, this course will be delivered fully online for all students until December 2020 (i.e. Modules 1–3), with all teaching taking place online. All tutorials and some lectures up to the end of December 2020 will be available through live online delivery; some lectures may also be recorded and available for streaming. Online tutorials will be fully participative and give students the opportunity to discuss topics and work through the main themes of the course together.

A decision as to whether the teaching for Hilary Term (starting January 2021) will take place in person or via online or blended learning will be made by the end of the previous term. 

We know that social interaction with fellow students and expert speakers is an integral part of the King’s Inns experience, and we hope to offer students the option to attend classes in person from January 2021 if they wish and if public health conditions at the time permit. Where appropriate, lectures be recorded and all students will have the option to continue online attendance from then onwards. If it is not possible to permit in–person attendance from January, or at any point thereafter, teaching will continue online. It may be necessary for King’s Inns to revise or amend its approach at any time during the academic year based on the prevailing public health advice, and in so doing the safety of students and staff will be a key consideration. This means that it is possible that we might re–commence in person teaching only to be obliged to revert to online teaching only, should public health considerations warrant such a change.

Introduction 

The range of entities making independent decisions over a multiplicity of complaints, disputes and entitlements is ever–increasing. Tribunals, adjudicators, disciplinary panels, ombudsmen and a gamut of appeals bodies are keystones of both public and, to a growing extent, private administration in Ireland. These quasi–judicial decision–makers walk an often tricky line between procedures adapted to their area of dispute resolution, the need for efficiency and speed, and the dominant requirement of due process.

Programme Aims and Learning Outcomes

This course aims to equip participants with the practical skills required to discharge the quasi–judicial decision–making processes. In particular, participants will: 

  • Develop strategies to ensure fair hearings in a range of malleable and often unpredictable contexts;
  • Develop principled approaches to ensure that all parties are properly heard through the eliciting, parsing, probing and evaluating of relevant evidence;
  • Hone skills to bolster the decision–maker’s actual and perceived independence and to instil confidence in the process over which they preside;
  • Develop a thorough understanding of the extent and limits of their role and powers;
  • Develop strategies to manage the dynamics of a hearing, including where vulnerable witnesses or an imbalance of legal representation arises;
  • Acquire the ability to judge when adjournments (and other procedural requests) should and should not be granted;
  • Hone analytical and writing skills to ensure robust, adequately reasoned decisions;
  • Critically evaluate and implement due process requirements in diverse and dynamic hearing contexts, allowing participants to implement ongoing organisational and personal improvements in practice.

WHO IS THE COURSE FOR?

This course is suitable for people responsible for making quasi–judicial decisions, who are involved in the administrative structures around such decisions, or who are seeking training to enhance their applications for quasi–judicial roles in the future. The course is suitable for lawyers and people working in a regulatory context with familiarity with a rules–based approach to rights and entitlements.

LEAD LECTURER AND COURSE DIRECTOR

The coordinator of the course is Tricia Sheehy Skeffington BL.

Course Content and Delivery

Delivery is part–time over six weekends (Friday evenings and Saturdays) at intervals throughout the academic year. Lectures from high calibre experts in judicial and quasi–judicial decision–making will be complemented by tutorials which will enable participants’ close focus and honing of skills most relevant to their own decision–making context. A panel event on managing challenging or vulnerable witnesses will be held also.

Course Start Date: Friday 16 October 2020 

This course will also be available via blended online learning, with classes recorded using e–learning software and made available to students for streaming via our Virtual Learning Environment. This means that, while all students are welcome to attend class in person, most of the sessions will be recorded so that students who are based outside Dublin or who are otherwise unable to attend can catch up on the material by streaming the video in their own time.

All class notes are available online before lectures take place. Online tutorials and IT support are available to help students navigate their way through our Library and legal resource databases.

Please note that the schedule below is provisional.

Module 1: 16 and 17 October 2020

Principles of due process:

  1. Overview of quasi–judicial landscape in Ireland (Lecture) 
  2. Ensuring Due Process pre–hearing (Lecture) 
  3. Ensuring Due Process during the hearing (Lecture) 
  4. Source of decision–maker’s powers (Lecture) 
  5. Tutorial presenting and critiquing procedural rules of a variety of quasi–judicial bodies 
  6. Workshop on creating fair procedural rules 

Module 2: 6 and 7 November 2020

The Decision Maker–impartiality, ethics and independence from appointing body:

  1. Ensuring decision–maker’s impartiality (Lecture) 
  2. Decision–maker’s independence from and relationship with appointing body (Lecture) 
  3. Addressing unconscious bias (Lecture/Workshop) – Bindi Dhokalia, Psychologist
  4. Ethics – Acting judiciously inside and outside the decision–making process (Tutorial) – Various tutors 

Module 3: 11 and 12 December 2020

Evidence–its purpose, admissibility and weight:

  1. Evidence: burden and standard of proof (Lecture) 
  2. Admissibility and status of evidence, (Lecture) 
  3. Making decisions on evidence before and at the hearing, (Tutorial) 
  4. Preparing for a hearing, (Tutorial) 

Module 4: 15 and 16 January 2021

Managing the dynamic of the hearing:

  1. Moderated panel discussion on managing vulnerable and challenging witnesses 
  2. Working with interpreters (Lecture) 
  3. Opening hearing and setting the tone (Tutorial) 
  4. Reacting to unforeseen circumstances (Tutorial) 

Module 5. 26 and 27 February 2021

Hearing Dynamics II and Mock hearings:

  1. Online and paper–based decision–making processes (Lecture) 
  2. Adjournments and due process (Lecture) 
  3. Mock hearings – Tutorials/Small group work 

Module 6. 26 and 27 March 2021

Making and recording the decision:

  1. Analysis and decision–making (Lecture) 
  2. The anatomy of a good written decision (Lecture) 
  3. Impact of EU Law on quasi–judicial decision–makers (Lecture) 
  4. The decision–making process, (Tutorial) 
  5. Analysis and feedback on written decisions (Tutorial) 

 

Previous contributors to the course have included: 

  • The Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice
  • The Hon Ms Justice Mary Irvine, Judge of the Supreme Court
  • The Hon Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, Judge of the Court of Appeal
  • The Hon Ms Justice Mary Faherty, Judge of the Court of Appeal
  • The Hon Ms Justice Niamh Hyland
  • The Hon Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty
  • Judge Ann Ryan, Judge of the District Court
  • Kevin Duffy BL, Former Chair of the Labour Court
  • Niall Nolan BL
  • Bindi Dholakia, Psychologist, Fairway Group
  • Sunniva McDonagh SC
  • Siobhán Phelan SC
  • Barry Magee, Associate at Fieldfisher Solicitors and former Chair of IPAT
  • Gary Lee, Solicitor, Ballymun Community Law Centre
  • Hilkka Becker, Chair, IPAT
  • Dr Mary Phelan, Dublin City University

Assessment

Assessment will be via two written assignments and an oral presentation, comprising:

  1. An individual take–home assignment on an aspect of quasi–judicial decision–making of no more than 2,000 words to be set at the end of Weekend Two (30%);
  2. An oral assessment of a communication or a decision a QJDM may have to make during the course of a hearing (30%);
  3. An individual take–home assignment in the form of a written decision to be drafted after the conclusion of the taught aspect of the course (40%).

Course Fee

Course fee: €4,750. View King’s Inns fee structure here.

Barrister–at–Law graduates who are subscribing members to King’s Inns receive a 10% discount on this course. View more information here.

How Do I Apply?

Application Deadline: Extended to midnight on Thursday, 8 October 2020.

Apply here

Places on this course are limited, and it is often over–subscribed. We have a selection criterion in place, and you are required to submit certain documentation to support your application.

  • Personal Statement addressing how the candidate’s qualifications and/or previous or current work experience are relevant to the course OR setting out some evidence that the candidate intends to work in the field of quasi–judicial decision–making e.g. applicant may specify which quasi–judicial decision–making body and which role is of interest to the applicant.
  • Optional – A certified copy of your academic and professional achievements. if you are a barrister it is not necessary to supply this information.
  • Optional – Additional Supporting Information – formal verification from your employer / appointing body of current or previous appointment(s), where applicable.
  • Documents may be submitted in the following formats: pdf, png, gif, jpg, jpeg. The maximum allowed size for each document is 20MB.

Download Personal Statement template 

Acceptance on this course will not be notified until 5 days after the closing date for applications. If you have been accepted, your place on the course will not be secured until payment is received in full.

Payment can be made through the application portal using your credit / debit card. If your employer is paying for your studies, you will require a PO number, the name and email address for the person responsible for payment in your organisation. The invoice will issue directly to the person whose details you enter. You will also be able to download a copy of the invoice through the application portal.

Receive notification when more information is available 

 

WHAT DO PREVIOUS STUDENTS SAY?

Eoin Ronayne

“The Advanced Diploma provided a focused and comprehensive grounding in the legal principles and practices applicable to a range of QJDM beyond those I engage with normally.” (Class of 2019–2020)

Eoin Ronayne, Deputy General Secretary at Fórsa