Administrative tribunals

Customized training

On top of its annual Roundtable on Administrative Law that reunites Judges and Members of Administrative Tribunals around issues that are of common interest to courts and tribunals, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) offers customized training for administrative tribunals requesting such targeted programs.

Courses are specifically designed for administrative board and tribunal members who wish to learn hearing procedures and acquire decision making skills.

The faculty

The teaching faculty, from administrative boards or tribunals, the judiciary, the legal profession, and from academia have been chosen for their expertise in administrative law as well as their experience in conducting hearings and in drafting decisions.Participants will also gain from the experience of their instructors and their fellow board or tribunal members.

Theme 1: Decision writing

Seminar with presentations and workshops. Much of the instruction centres on written exercises and decision drafting. Participants are asked to submit sample decisions when registering which are reviewed in advance by instructors and discussed in class.

  • What constitutes reasons for decisions: Who, when, why and how to give reasons for decision, statutory duty, the common law, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
  • Decision writing: Hands-on analysis of actual decisions, emphasizing facts, issues and conclusions, with some study of style, grammar, plain language and gender neutral language.

Theme 2: Hearing process

Seminar for newly appointed members of Administrative Boards or Tribunals or members who wish a refresher session:

  • Conduct of a Hearing: the ‘rules of natural justice,’ basic requirements of fairness and impartiality, basic elements of a hearing, pre-hearing considerations, pre-hearing conferences, summonses, interlocutory proceedings, presenting the case of a hearing, adjournments, management of proceedings, adequate disclosure of information, legitimate expectations;
  • Issues of Independence: degree of accountability and independence, techniques for achieving consistency and coherence, collegiality;
  • The Impact of the Charter on administrative tribunals.

Theme 3: Rules of evidence and administrative tribunals

Introductory course designed for newly appointed tribunal members and those without legal training:

  • What is evidence? Direct, circumstantial, viva voce, affidavit, documentary, real, demonstrative, expert etc., why do we have rules of evidence?
  • Evidence and administrative tribunals: How do the rules of evidence apply to administrative tribunals? Common law versus statutory law of evidence; standard and burden of proof;
  • Relevance, materiality, admissibility and weight: How do you decide what to let in and what to exclude? Assessing credibility;
  • Oral testimony: The oath, exclusion of orders, evidence in chief vs. cross-examination vs. re-examination;
  • Hearsay: What is it? Why administrative tribunals can admit hearsay;
  • Privilege: What is it? Statutory provisions relating to application of law of privilege;
  • How to deal with evidentiary objections: Using pre-hearing and case management processes to identify and deal with evidentiary issues.

Theme 4: Managing an administrative tribunal

Tribunal Governance may also be an area of concentration for Chairs and Board members concerned with management issues such as:

  • Governance: Efficient functioning of tribunals or their processes through efficient policy-making and administrative processes, institutional building/strengthening, administrative competence and transparency, delimitation of powers and duties of officials; ethical issues, administrative discipline;
  • Role of tribunal officials: The management role of the chair, responsibility to the minister and the legislature, managing caseloads, streamlining of procedures, use of alternate dispute resolution;
  • Role of tribunal staff: Fairness and equity in dealings with the public, beginning with first contact; developing and applying board policy;
  • Communications: Getting the board’s message across, establishing relations with the media, managing controversial issues.