Today I attended the Labour Law Essentials program hosted by the Ontario Bar Association. I would like to share a few pointers from the event, which mainly focussed on labour arbitrations.
1) Just because you spot a possible preliminary objection doesn’t mean that you have to raise it. Choose your objections carefully.
2) Clarify the jurisdiction of the arbitrator. Is the grievance that is before the arbitrator the same grievance that was drafted?
3) Production: Be careful about asking for everything. You could miss the needle in the haystack. Instead, you might want to ask for the documents that opposing counsel intends to rely upon during the grievance arbitration.
4) A disorganized file is a disorganized mind.
5) Speak slowly! Watch the pen/keyboard of the arbitrator!
6) Counsel should take a methodical approach to arbitration:
(1) figure out the facts;
(ii) consider the theory of the case;
(iii) review arbitral case law;
(iv) assess the flaws in the case;
(v) think about the presentation of the case, e.g. order of witnesses;
(vi) prepare opening, cross, closing; and
(vii) remember you are telling a story about why you should succeed on the merits of the case and why you are on the side of fairness.
7) Prioritize your duties to the client. Your first priority should be honesty. Tell the client when he/she is wrong. Not everything is actionable. Your second priority should be to advocate zealously on your client’s behalf.