Helliwell Foundation gift supports a new dispute resolution centre

Osgoode Hall Law School has moved a step closer toward the construction of what will be the world’s leading electronic dispute resolution facility, thanks to the generosity of a Toronto man who left the bulk of his estate to his foundation so that it could continue to support worthy causes.

The Paul B. Helliwell Foundation has donated $1 million toward the cost of the multi-million dollar high-tech facility, which will consist of an electronic courtroom and specially designed space for alternative dispute resolution. The law school has also applied to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for major funding for the facility and will know soon if its grant application was successful.

Above: From left, Osgoode Hall Law School Dean and York Provost-designate Patrick Monahan; John Jenah, president of the Paul B. Helliwell Foundation; York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri; and Paul Marcus, president & CEO, York University Foundation, sign the Helliwell gift agreement to establish the new dispute resolution centre at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School

The facility – which will be named, subject to University approval, the Paul B. Helliwell Centre for Innovation in Dispute Resolution – will employ the latest in technology to assist law students, researchers, courts, mediators and arbitrators in exploring new ways to resolve disputes. In addition to being a laboratory where researchers will examine different dispute resolution environments, it will also feature actual court sittings (including Ontario Court of Appeal sittings) and other forms of dispute resolution activity, both within Canada and internationally.

“We’re just absolutely delighted to have your support and the support of the Foundation,” Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan told John Jenah, president of the Paul B. Helliwell Foundation, at the official signing of the Helliwell gift agreement in the University’s York Room on March 16. In addition to Monahan and Jenah, the signators to the agreement were York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Paul Marcus, president & CEO of the York University Foundation.

Front row: Mamdouh Shoukri; John Jenah, Patrick Monahan. Back row: Paul Marcus, Shane D’Souza, chair, Osgoode Student Caucus; J.P. Rodrigues, president, Osgoode Legal & Literary Society; Osgoode Associate Dean Janet Mosher; Osgoode PhD student Christine Forsyth; Osgoode Professor Jinyan Li (who will be acting dean of Osgoode starting July 1); Anita Herrmann, director, Office of Advancement at Osgoode; Osgoode Professor Paul Emond

Monahan said the Law School’s renovation and expansion plans for its physical premises called for the development of several innovative, exciting projects that could be flagships within the new building and the dispute resolution facility was high on the list. He said the Law School is hoping to hear soon that it will be receiving government infrastructure money so that construction of the new building, including the dispute resolution facility, can begin.

Shoukri also expressed gratitude on behalf of the University to the Helliwell Foundation. “It is always exciting to see the commitment of philanthropists to support the next generation of Canadians,” Shoukri said. “This is an investment that we appreciate and an investment that you will never regret.” 

About Paul Helliwell

Paul Helliwell (right) was born in China in 1917 to parents who were missionaries, and died in 2001. After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, he started a career in the banking industry and went on to own several manufacturing firms with his wife, Neta. They were married for almost 50 years until her death in 1985. Several years later, Helliwell remarried and he and his wife, June, were together for 10 years. Though he was never a father himself, he was a father figure to many and gave generously to various charitable causes.

The announcement of the Helliwell gift follows on the heels of an announcement earlier this year by the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) that a group of Osgoode students, known as the ADR Project, were successful in winning an LFO grant of more than $170,000 for the creation of the Osgoode Mediation Clinic. The new clinical program will start this fall, with students enrolled in the program receiving academic credit for their clinical work.