Advanced Decision-Writing Course

The Council of Australasian Tribunals (COAT)  launched its advanced decision-writing course in February 2023. The course will continue to run on a bi-monthly basis in 2024 with some additional features, commencing 1 March, then 1 May, 1 July, 1 September and 1 November.

Course content
The course consists of a series of interviews with some of Australia’s most respected decision-writers who discuss their approach to decision-writing: Justice Jayne Jagot (High Court of Australia), Justice Mark Leeming (NSW Court of Appeal), Justice John Griffith (A/ Justice of the Court of Appeal, formerly justice of the Federal Court of Australia), Justice Rachel Pepper (NSW Land and Environment Court) and Deputy President Bernard McCabe (Administrative Appeals Tribunal).

Conducted by published author and Tribunal member, Suzanne Leal, the interviews cover a range of topics, including :

  • giving reasons for finding of facts, especially where the evidence is finely balanced and/or involves issues of credit
  • dealing with voluminous and/or technical material
  • balancing considerations in the exercise of a discretionary power
  • dealing with arguments about competing statutory construction
  • structuring reasons which involve multiple disputed issues of fact and law.

Each interview is accompanied by a series of exercises which focus on extracts of decisions written by the interviewee. The exercises are designed to illustrate the techniques used by the interviewee and to encourage participants to reflect on their own practice.

Course format
The course is conducted online and uses using an easy to navigate software platform. Access to the course is password protected.

Time commitment
Each interview runs for about 45 minutes. The accompanying questions should take about the same amount of time to complete. Most participants should be able to complete the course in 8 hours.

Participants will have access to the course for eight weeks. The course is self-paced. Participants can complete the course in their own time.

Cost (GST not applicable to NZ)
$500 (COAT members) $650 (non-members), plus GST.
Members of Tribunals that are financial members of COAT, and individuals who are financial members of a chapter of COAT, are eligible for the discounted COAT member fee. Please contact our office if you need to check your membership status.

Suitability for course
The course is designed for Tribunal members with several years’ experience in decision-writing. The course does not cover the basics, such as what are adequate reasons, or how to structure reasons for decision. For introductory courses, please refer to our Online Member Induction Program and Online Introductory Decision Writing Couse – details on our website. Please contact Kathryn McKenzie, COAT Secretariat, 0418 281 116;  if you have any other queries.

COAT’s licence to use its software platform limits the number of people who can be enrolled in course at any one time. Depending on the numbers of participants enrolled in other courses, COAT may not be able to accommodate all requests to commence the course on particular dates.

COAT has limited online licenses each month for all our courses. Extending access to programs or re-enrolment without payment, can only occur in exceptional circumstances.

To enrol in the course please complete this form below or download the flyer by clicking here to register: