SCOPE OF DISPUTES GOVERNED BY THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORTS
The CAS can deal with any disputes submitted to it which are directly or indirectly connected to sport. The scope of the cases it hears can therefore be wide-ranging and include anything from commercial disputes regarding sponsorship agreements, or contractual provisions in a sportsperson’s contract to issues such as doping allegations faced by individual athletes.
Sanctions handed down by worldwide governing bodies to their members are often also challenged before CAS, such as a football club being handed a transfer ban by the worldwide governing body of football – FIFA.
To bring a dispute before CAS, a body must be an individual or a legal entity with the capacity to act, and which is involved in the sporting context. This is a wide-ranging definition meaning the following bodies and individuals may apply to the CAS to settle a sporting dispute:
- Individual athletes;
- sports federations;
- the organizing committees behind sporting events;
- sponsors or television companies.
RULES ON SUBMISSION
For a dispute to be submitted to CAS, the parties must have agreed in writing that if a dispute arises, this can be referred to the CAS. This written agreement will often be found within the statutes or regulations of a sports organization, or in the contracts between the organization and its member associations. This agreement may be on a one-off basis, or appear in contracts in order to make it a more permanent recourse to solving disputes.
Often the agreement will exist prior to the dispute arising in one of the above scenarios. However, if there is no agreement as such before a dispute arises, both parties can agree in writing that they will submit the dispute to the CAS.
When the parties agree in writing to submit the dispute to the CAS, they will usually also decide which jurisdiction of law will apply to the proceedings. If the parties cannot agree or if they do not state which law should be applicable, the rules of the Court will apply. The Code is known as the CAS Rules.
In the context of the appeals procedure, the arbitrators rule on the basis of the regulations of the body concerned by the appeal and, subsidiarily, the law of the country in which the body is domiciled. The procedure itself is governed by the Code of Sports-related Arbitration. The ordinary procedure lasts between 6 and 12 months. With regards to the appeals procedure, an award must be pronounced within three months after the transfer of the file to the Panel. In urgent cases and upon request, the CAS may, within a very short time, order interim measures or suspend the execution of a decision appealed against.
PROCEDURE AT CAS
The party wishing to submit a dispute to the CAS must send the CAS Court Office a request for arbitration (ordinary procedure), or a statement of appeal (appeals procedure), the contents of which are specified by the Code of Sports-related Arbitration.
In the case of the appeals procedure, a party may lodge an appeal only if it has exhausted all the internal remedies of the sports organization concerned. A person may appear alone before CAS, they may also be represented or assisted at CAS hearings by a person of their choice, not necessarily a lawyer, but a lawyer is preferable especially when documents and evidence need to be tendered and analyzed. Once the arbitration request or statement of appeal is filed, the respondent submits a reply to the CAS stating his defense or position against the petition raised or the arbitration dispute occasioned. After any additional exchange of statements of case, the parties are summoned to a hearing to be heard, produce evidence, and argue their case before the arbitrators.
The final award is communicated to the parties some weeks later, unless it is pronounced the same day – applicable under the appeals procedure.
ARBITRAL AWARD BY THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT
An arbitral award pronounced by the CAS is final and binding on the parties from the moment it is communicated. It may be enforced in accordance with the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards, to which more than 125 countries are signatories.
APPEALS AGAINST THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORTS’ AWARD
Where a person is dissatisfied with the arbitral award given by CAS, he may lodge an appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal on limited grounds. Some of the grounds upon which an appeal can be brought include:
- lack of jurisdiction;
- violation of elementary procedural rules;
- incompatibility with public policy.
The procedure at the Swiss Federal Tribunal is a little more complicated due to the use of the Swiss Private International Law Act (PILA). For a more robust understanding of the procedure for appeal against the decision of CAS, please read the article published by Antonio Rigozzi, a Professor of Sports Law, published in the Oxford Academic Journal for International Dispute, titled Challenging Awards of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.