Labour Arbitration Skills | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

Labour Arbitration Skills

ALR 402
4 Credits

Learning the Advocate’s Art and Science of Building and Presenting Winning Arbitration Cases

Effective advocacy before an arbitrator requires the same blend of skills, street smarts, and techniques as advocacy before a judge in a courtroom. It requires careful and extensive preparation before the hearing, concise opening statements, organized and efficient presentation of evidence, and persuasive argument. Leading advocates and arbitrators will coach you through the preparation and presentation of a challenging arbitration case. In this dynamic program, you will build presentation and advocacy skills and get immediate feedback from an experienced arbitrator.

Tour of the Program

a) The First Principles of Arbitration

To ensure you have a solid foundation for the coming week, the opening session offers a picture of the environment in which an arbitrator must operate.

By the end of this session, you will have a foundation in:

  • The role and powers of the arbitrator
  • The purpose of arbitration
  • Governing legislation
  • Development of arbitral jurisprudence
  • The evolution of doctrine

b) Introduction to the Arbitration Hearing

To give a sense of the “look and feel” of the typical labour arbitration hearing, we offer this overview of the process and normal procedures to follow. At the same time, you get a chance to pick up a few pointers on typical presentation pitfalls to avoid.

c) Advanced Topics in Arbitration

For more experienced advocates, we offer a parallel workshop on advanced topics such as streamlining the hearing. You will negotiate an agreed statement of facts and argue a preliminary motion on the admissibility of video surveillance.

d) Preparing for the Hearing

Do you know the types of evidence that arbitrators require? What types of evidence will be excluded? What are the rules governing hearsay? We show you how to get essential facts into the evidentiary record, and how to assess your opponent’s theory of the case.

Learn the following eight steps of foolproof case prepping:

  • Learn the facts
  • Develop your theory
  • Consider precedents
  • Take stock of possible flaws or amendments
  • Consider preliminaries
  • Narrow your focus
  • Prepare your witnesses
  • Prepare opening/cross/closing

e) Becoming a Research Hound

Legal research can be costly in terms of time and money. We offer a series of questions to help shape a research plan, introduce you to a basic research model, and give you tips and resources to get you going in the right direction.

f) Arbitration and Human Rights

Delve deeper into the issues surrounding arbitration and human rights, such as sexual harassment and discrimination against people with disabilities. Take away an invaluable resource booklet on “the duty to accommodate at arbitration.”

g) Mastering the Hearing

Learn how to prepare your witnesses and evidence. Practice what you have learned in a role play, and get a live demonstration of how to qualify an expert witness. Find out how to order your evidence and how to hold the attention of the arbitrator. We offer techniques on questioning and presenting exhibits that are highly effective.

Learn more about:

  • Delivering effective opening and closing statements
  • Examining, cross-examining, and reexamining witnesses
  • Understanding key aspects of the rules of evidence
  • Objecting at the right time and in the right way

h) Mock Arbitration

Here is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to practice your new advocacy skills and get expert coaching along the way. With a partner, research your case and prepare an opening statement, examination-in-chief, cross examination, and closing argument. Deliver your case before an experienced arbitrator.

i) Awards and Debriefing

In the final session, assemble with your colleagues to hear the arbitrators’ awards and share impressions of the mock hearing. How did you fare? Did you encounter any surprises?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the week, you will be better positioned to:

  • Prepare effectively for the hearing and develop the theory of the case
  • Assess your opponent’s case
  • Make opening and closing statements
  • Examine and cross-examine effectively
  • Establish the facts at the hearing
  • Tender evidence and object to evidence
  • Prepare and present a mock arbitration before an experienced arbitrator


Organizational Benefits

  • Significant savings in grievance arbitration costs
  • Faster and more streamlined preparation for hearings
  • Better labour management relations
  • Greater knowledge of employment law nuances 

Takeaway Tools

  • Labour Arbitration Workbook

Who Should Attend

Labour lawyers and labour relations professionals who are involved in the grievance process or who prepare and present cases before boards of arbitrators

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

Deborah Leighton

Professor Deborah Leighton is a member of the Employment Relations Program in the Faculty of Arts and Science, at Queen’s University, teaching in the Master of Industrial Relations program since 1994. She has been a labour mediator and arbitrator since 1992 and is a named arbitrator for many parties including Air Canada and ACPA, University of Toronto and CUPE, and the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT-Academic) and OPSEU.

In addition to her private practice as a mediator and arbitrator, Deborah has acted in these roles for a number of public boards. She is a listed arbitrator at the Ontario Crown Employees' Grievance Settlement Board (since 1996). She served as a Vice-Chair, at the Ontario...

Read the full bio for Deborah Leighton

Guest Speaker(s)

Craig Flood

Craig Flood practises in the area of labour law with a special expertise in the area of workplace safety and insurance. In June 2016, he assumed the role of Managing Partner of Koskie Minsky LLP, and he is a long-time member of the Executive Committee.

Craig is a proud graduate of Queen's University (B.A. Honours, 1982) and the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. (LLB, 1986). He was admitted as a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1988.

Craig represents trade unions and employees in the acquisition and preservation of bargaining rights, unfair labour practice complaints, discipline and discharge, occupational health and safety, essential services, and grievance arbitration. He has appeared...

Read the full bio for Craig Flood

Donald Carter

Donald Carter is a Professor Emeritus at the Queen’s University Faculty of Law. From 1993 to 1998 he served as Dean of Law at Queen’s and from 1985 to 1990 was Director of the Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre/School of Industrial Relations. He has served as Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board (1976-79), as President of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (1991-92), and as Chair of Ontario’s Public Service Grievance Board (2002 -13). He was active as a labour arbitrator and mediator from 1972 to 2015. He is also the author of numerous articles and monographs relating to labour law and industrial relations. In 2013 he received the Bora Laskin award for outstanding contributions to Canadian labour law...

Read the full bio for Donald Carter

Megan Telford

Megan Telford is the Vice President, Global Head of Employee Relations for the Toronto-Dominion Bank Group. Megan joined TD in 2007 as the Bank’s employment law counsel and then went on to work on the mergers and acquisitions team before joining employee relations.

Previously, Megan was a lawyer in the labour and employment law group at the law firm of Heenan Blaikie in Toronto and was a sessional instructor in the Queen’s University Faculty of Law. In addition, Megan worked for the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

She has published articles on a wide range of labour, employment, administrative law, and human resources issues. Megan obtained both her Masters of Industrial...

Read the full bio for Megan Telford

William Hayter

William Hayter is a labour and employment lawyer who acts for employers in disputes with their employees.  He practised on the employer side for a large labour and employment firm in Toronto before moving to the Niagara region. He continues to be engaged in a broad spectrum of disputes associated with the employment relationship, including the arbitration of disputes under collective agreements, the representation of employers in wrongful dismissal actions or human rights complaints before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Having conducted thousands of arbitrations over a career spanning more than 35 years, he understands the complexities of the trial process and the importance of a properly conceived and presented...

Read the full bio for William Hayter

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

May 31-June 3, 2021 (10am-5pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard. You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's University) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

We offer an Early-Bird discount for in-person programs. If you register 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs. Virtual programs are offered at approximately 15% less than our in-person rates and are not eligible for an Early-Bird rate.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount. These discounts apply to both in-person and virtual training.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a 10% discount on program fees. Contact us at for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty 8 days or more from the program start date.
Substitutions 7 days or less before the program start date will be subject to a $500 charge.
Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 15 days prior to the program start date.
Transfers and cancellations 14 days or less from the program start date will be subject to a 100% charge of the program fee.


Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans. What are the start and end times for the program?

Programs in Kingston - Registration and reception begins at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The in-class program starts 4:00 p.m. The program finishes by 6:00 p.m. on the last day.

Programs outside Kingston - Registration for these programs runs from 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. on the first day. The in-class program starts 8:30 a.m. The program ends by 6:00 p.m. on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC. Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or