Advanced Diploma in Quasi–Judicial Decision–Making

Course available through blended / online distance learning.

Since Covid–19 restrictions came into force on March 12, this course was delivered 100% online through our accessible Virtual Learning Environment. Read about the recent changes here

King’s Inns will continue to offer this course online for 2020/2021 until it is safe to deliver in person as well on campus. Attending classes in person will be optional. 

We know social interaction with fellow students, lecturers and visiting speakers is an integral part of the King’s Inns experience and once a safe opportunity presents, we will invite students back on campus.


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.


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.


The coordinator of the course is Tricia Sheehy Skeffington BL.

Course Content and Delivery

This course is delivered by top experts in the field, including:

  • 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 High Court
  • Mary Rose Gearty SC
  • 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
  • Dr Mary Phelan, Dublin City University

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 23 October 2020 (provisional) 

Application Deadline: Friday 2 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.

Complimentary parking and refreshments are provided for participants attending in person.

Please note that the schedule below is provisional.

Weekend 1. 23 and 24 October 2020

Principles of due process:

  1. Overview of quasi–judicial landscape in Ireland (Lecture) – The Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice
  2. Ensuring Due Process pre–hearing (Lecture) – Siobhán Phelan SC
  3. Ensuring Due Process during the hearing (Lecture) – Kevin Duffy BL, former Chair of the Labour Court
  4. Source of decision–maker’s powers (Lecture) – The Hon Ms Justice Mary Faherty, Judge of the High Court
  5. Tutorial presenting and critiquing procedural rules of a variety of quasi–judicial bodies – Various tutors 
  6. Workshop on creating fair procedural rules – Various tutors

Weekend 2. x and x November 2020

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

  1. Ensuring decision–maker’s impartiality (Lecture) – The Hon Ms Justice Mary Irvine, Judge of the Supreme Court
  2. Decision–maker’s independence from and relationship with appointing body (Lecture) – Barry Magee, Solicitor, Fieldfisher Solicitors and former Chair of IPAT
  3. Addressing unconscious bias (Lecture/Workshop) – Bindi Dhokalia, Psychologist
  4. Ethics – Acting judiciously inside and outside the decision–making process (Tutorial) – Various tutors 

Weekend 3. x and x December 2020

Evidence–its purpose, admissibility and weight:

  1. Evidence: burden and standard of proof (Lecture) – Niall Nolan BL
  2. Admissibility and status of evidence, (Lecture) – Peggy O’Rourke SC
  3. Making decisions on evidence before and at the hearing, (Tutorial) – Various tutors
  4. Preparing for a hearing, (Tutorial) – Various tutors 

Weekend 4. x and x January 2021

Managing the dynamic of the hearing:

  1. Moderated panel discussion on managing vulnerable and challenging witnesses. Moderator – Mary Rose Gearty SC
  2. Working with interpreters (Lecture) – Dr Mary Phelan, Dublin City University
  3. Opening hearing and setting the tone (Tutorial) – Various tutors
  4. Reacting to unforeseen circumstances (Tutorial) – Various tutors

Weekend 5. x and x February 2021

Hearing Dynamics II and Mock hearings:

  1. Online and paper–based decision–making processes (Lecture) – Tricia Sheehy Skeffington BL
  2. Adjournments and due process (Lecture) – (Senior Counsel – name TBC)
  3. Mock hearings – Tutorials/Small group work – Various tutors

Weekend 6. x and x March 2021

Making and recording the decision:

  1. Analysis and decision–making (Lecture) – Sunniva McDonagh SC
  2. The anatomy of a good written decision (Lecture) – The Hon Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, Judge of the Court of Appeal 
  3. Impact of EU Law on quasi–judicial decision–makers (Lecture) – (Expert name tbc)
  4. The decision–making process, (Tutorial) – Various tutors 
  5. Analysis and feedback on written decisions (Tutorial) – Various tutors 


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

Total cost of course: €4,750.

Fee structure can be viewed here.

BL graduates who are subscribing members to King’s Inns receive a 10% discount on this course. Click here for more information.

How Do I Apply?

We are now taking applications for this course. 

Apply here

Places on this course are limited, and they are often over–subscribed. We have selection criteria 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 



This course was first run in autumn 2019 with the first lot of students still enrolled at King’s Inns.