Queen’s Law students reach Hockey Arbitration Competition of Canada semifinals

Ben Civil and Jeff Allen represented Queen’s at the competition last week

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Law students Civil and Allen reach semi-finals of annual Hockey Arbitration Competition.

Ben Civil and Jeff Allen, Law ’23, came within one victory of the final round of the tenth annual law competition held virtually by UofT from Mar. 18 to 20. They lost to a team from the University of Montreal, who went on to lose to Western in the final round.

Civil and Allen spoke to The Journal about participating in the tournament.

“This was the first chance for me personally to do some written and oral advocacy outside of the classroom, so that was a great experience,” Civil said.

“It’s definitely nice to get that experience and to get some good feedback from the judges as well to hear you’re on the right path if this is something you’re interested in [as a career].”

HACC is a tournament which simulates salary arbitration, a legal mechanism found in the NHL and MLB. Unlike salary negotiations for players in the NFL or NBA, for example, salary arbitration grants players the ability to have their value determined by an objective third party rather than the team which owns the rights to them.

In HACC, law students mimic the negotiations which take place during salary arbitration by fictionally representing either a real-life player or the NHL team which that player belongs to.

Organized with qualifying, quarterfinal, semi-final, and a final rounds, HACC matches consist of two teams of two presenting their respective arguments for a player’s valuation in front of a guest arbitrator—the objective third party—who acts as the judge. Whichever team presents the most compelling argument, based on their written briefs and oral presentation, advances to the subsequent round.

Last year, six teams from Queen’s attended the competition, none of whom made it past the qualifying round.

When asked what allowed them to travel so far in the competition, Allen and Civil both stated it was their preparedness—along with a solid written brief—that saw them through.

“I think our biggest strength was our written briefs that we made,“ Allen said. 

“Having stuff prepared and just knowing your brief inside and out and remaining firm in your stance is always important.”

Allen also mentioned they’re proud of how competitive they were in every outing, regardless of their exit in the semi-finals.

“Looking back, I think [we were] competitive in every single round. Even the round we got eliminated, we were still competitive,” he said.

“A lot of those matches just turned into a small detail you might have missed or something the arbitrator just really liked on one side specifically, and [that’s why] they end up awarding a victory to one team.”

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