Arguing sometimes has its benefits. Two second-year students at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School successfully argued their way to a first-place win at the Mathews Dinsdale & Clark National Labour Arbitration Moot.
During the morning of the moot, juris doctor students Reshika Dhir and Blake Moran argued on behalf of the union. Then, in the afternoon, they switched sides and argued on behalf of management based on the same scenario. The idea was to show an ability to argue both sides equally well. The moot problem dealt with three grievances: a suspension grievance, a discharge grievance and a grievance by the employer for damages for defamation.
|Above: From left to right, team coach Paula Knopf; John Laskin of the Ontario Court of Appeal; Osgoode student Reshika Dhir; Kevin Whitaker, chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board; Tim Armstrong, former deputy minister of labour; and Ogoode student Blake Moran.|
Among the legal issues involved were questions of whether the arbitration board had the jurisdiction to entertain the defamation grievance brought by the employer, whether there was appropriate discipline for the griever’s misconduct, and whether the suspension, in particular, was void ab initio for lack of union representation when the griever was initially sent home by the employer.
The moot took place over the last weekend in January in Toronto. Dhir and Moran, coached by Adjunct Professor Paula Knopf, who teaches an Osgoode Labour Arbitration seminar, prevailed over stiff competition from seven law schools from across the country, including a final performance against Queen’s University.
The competition is open to students in the second year of the Juris Doctor/LLB Program. Each team argues both sides of a grievance brought under a collective agreement – usually a wrongful discharge grievance. The judges are arbitrators and labour law practitioners. In the first round, each team argues the union side in one hearing and the employer side in another hearing. The two teams with the highest scores advance to the final.