Church Court Chambers’ Barristers have developed a niche practice in the rapidly expanding and evolving field of Sports Law advising on all major aspects with a specific focus on Regulatory & Disciplinary Issues and Anti-Corruption within Sport. Our Team have experience of representing high profile athletes before various legal tribunals, providing contractual advice to athletes and resolving media industry disputes. Our organisation represents athletes before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the ICC, the FA Disciplinary Panel, the civil and criminal courts and media clients in commercial disputes. We have also advised the Government body of Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
We have assisted in Anti-Corruption issues in major sports organisations and have acted in high profile cases such as Crown Court football match-fixing trials, spread betting on an International Scale, corruption within Horse Racing, Anti-Doping within Professional and Amateur Sports including Professional Boxing. The threat from transnational criminal organisations requires a particular level of expertise, such as the effects of the Bribery Act 2010, illegal gambling within sports, agency malfeasance, embezzlement and money laundering. Further, we are able to advise in relation to Sports Accident matters including coroners work.
A few notable high profile cases we have acted on:
• Acted for an International England cricketer in a spot fixing case and subsequent appeal in a case brought by the ECB which involved hearings before CAS and the High Court in London;
• Acted for Pakistan Cricket Players in a spot fixing case under the ICC rules in Doha;
• Acted for English domestic and international cricketers, Bangladeshi cricketers and Bangladeshi cricket club owners in relation to corruption and anti-bribery charges brought against them under the ICC rules.
• Acted for Indian Cricket players who were banned from participating in the Indian Cricket League which was a league not recognised by the ICC. This involved ICC rules, BCCI rules and the Indian National Law in conjunction with the advice given by lawyers in India.
• Acted for a young tennis player and his family on an anti-racism case before CAS brought against the LTA for discrimination and racism as a result of the young player being banned from taking part in all international tennis tournaments.
• Acted for an Iranian wrestler who was accused of using performance enhancing drugs and was subsequently banned from competing in all international tournaments.
• Advised sporting bodies such as the Dutch Football Association on writing their Anti-Racism Rules, policies, initiatives and laws;
• Advised the Northern Irish Football Association on their Anti-Racism rules, policies and initiatives
• Represented the England International Sportsmen in Defamation matters involving Al Jazeera • Contractual Advice and Representation of Players in Franchise Tournaments and Competitions all over the world
• Tribunal Chair Member in International Snooker Fixing Cases against World Snooker Players and in the MCC Disciplinary Hearings
In terms of training and education our barristers this year have reached out to various organisations and clubs. In the wake of the recent conviction of high profile footballer Adam Johnson for sexual activity with a child, football clubs and the PFA are being called upon to introduce programmes of sexual awareness training for those involved in the club both on and off the pitch. Church Court Chambers are keen to offer training sessions and seminars across many areas of the law and are well placed to deliver sessions tailored to the specific needs of individual clubs.
We strongly believe in the importance of education and the implementation of preventative policies and procedures. Training and the application of appropriate protection and safeguarding structures can reduce the risk of dangerous situations arising and reduce the need for subsequent legal proceedings. Educating those in positions of power, authority or in the public eye to recognise and avoid potentially abusive or inappropriate situations is essential for any organisation. It remains a priority to protect individuals, be they employees, members of the public or players.
In addition, reputational damage to a sport or business is at stake where organisations fail to take safeguarding seriously and ignore the need to adopt preventative measures. With the unprecedented growth in social media within the last decade, organisations need to respond quickly and appropriately to comments or allegations concerning the business or its employees. Basic training on potential issues and how to identify and deal with them, including when and how you should engage with media attention in such circumstances is a simple but effective way to mitigate risks.