Advanced Diploma in Quasi–Judicial Decision–Making

Course available through blended / online distance learning.

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.

Course Content and delivery

Coordinated by Tricia Sheehy–Skeffington BL, this course will be delivered by top experts in the field, including:

  •  The Hon Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, Judge of the Court of Appeal
  • Paul Anthony McDermott SC
  • Mary Rose Gearty SC
  • Kevin Duffy BL, Former Chair of the  Labour Court
  • Niall Nolan BL
  • Bindi Dholakia, Psychologist, Fairway Group

Delivery is part–time over six weekends (Friday evenings and Saturdays) at intervals throughout the academic year, commencing Autumn 2019. 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 before evening dining in the King’s Inns, which participants will be also invited to attend.

While lectures and tutorials will be the primary delivery method and attendance is preferred, blended options and e–learning components will be included across all elements of course.

Programme Modules:

Lectures will be recorded and students will be able to stream these recordings at a time of their choosing, dependent on their internet access. Supplementary materials will be provided online in a participatory forum established to support students’ learning. Attendance is preferable at all sessions, but in particular at tutorials, workshops and round–table events.

Course Start Date: Friday 11 October 2019

Application Deadline: Monday 16 September 2019

Please note that this is a provisional schedule.






11th and 12th October 2019

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.




8th and 9th November 2019

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


7. Ensuring decision–maker’s impartiality (Lecture)

8. Decision–maker’s independence from and relationship with appointing body (Lecture)

9. Addressing unconscious bias  (Lecture/Workshop)

10. Ethics – Acting judiciously inside and outside the decision–making process (Tutorial)



6th and 7th December 2019

Evidence–its purpose, admissibility and weight:


11. Evidence: burden and standard of proof (Lecture)

12. Admissibility and status of evidence, (Lecture)

13. Making decisions on evidence before and at the hearing, (Tutorial)

14. Preparing for a hearing, (Tutorial)



17th and 18th January 2020

Managing the dynamic of the hearing:

15. Moderated panel discussion on managing vulnerable and challenging witnesses

16. Working with interpreters (Lecture)

17. Opening hearing and setting the tone (Tutorial)

18. Reacting to unforeseen circumstances (Tutorial)




28th and 29th February 2020

Hearing Dynamics II and Mock hearings:


19. Online and paper–based decision–making processes (Lecture)

20. Adjournments and due process (Lecture)

21. Mock hearings – Tutorials/Small group work



27th and 28th March 2020

Making and recording the decision:


22. Analysis and decision–making (Lecture)

23. Impact of EU Law on quasi–judicial decision–makers (Lecture)

24. The anatomy of a good written decision (Lecture)

25. The decision–making process, (Tutorial)

26. Analysis and feedback on written decisions (Tutorial)



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%).

Who should attend

This course will be 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.



Fees can be viewed here.


How to apply

Applications are made here.


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