Sports arbitration in the sports field: Tribunal Arbitral du Sport (TAS)

Sports arbritration

At the beginning of the 80s, the need to establish an alternative and specialized system for the resolution of international sports disputes, sports arbitration, became evident. This led to the creation of the TAS. Relevant historical milestones were (among others); the first arbitration of its history in 1986 (case CAS 86/02 Niederhasli Hockey Club v Swiss National Hockey Federation); the appeal lodged by the German rider Gundel in 1992, which came to question the independence of the TAS from the IOC; or, in 1994, the creation of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) as an independent body responsible for governing the TAS.

In this context, the various advantages of sports arbitration inter alia are:

  1. The specialization of the referees, favoring the adoption of decisions more suited to the specificity of the sport.
  2. Speed in the resolution of disputes. This is important due to the nature of the sport competitions and the brevity of the athletes’ career.
  3. The harmonization of the legal-sport system.

This is why we must emphasize the importance of sports justice and the so-called “Lex Sportiva”. For example, at the end of 2015 TAS moderated the 8-party sanction imposed by FIFA to Portuguese coach Fernando Santos. This could make history guiding the Portuguese team to the achievement of the Eurocopa of France in 2016.

Tribunal Arbitral du Sport (TAS)

As for the organization of the TAS, we must make a brief review of its operation, especially the Code of TAS and the ICAS. We must highlight the two arbitration divisions in which the TAS is divided; Ordinary Arbitration Division and Appeals Arbitration Division. Another key point is the decentralization of the TAS in its offices in New York and Sydney. It also creates ad hoc divisions for certain competitions, such as the Olympic Games or the World Cups.

We must also note that in order to submit any dispute to the TAS, a valid arbitration agreement is required which may take any of the following forms, in addition to the general rules applicable to the said ordinary procedures (R38 to R46) and of appeal (R47 to R59):

  1. A clause provided in a contract.
  2. Agreed between the parties subsequently.
  3. Or provided in the statutes or regulations of an entity related to sport.

Most of the sports federations are equipped with their own mechanisms to encourage compliance with arbitration awards. Disciplinary Code establishes the imposition of certain sanctions on a person who does not comply, among others, with a decision of the TAS.

Its numbers

The reality is that the TAS is a key institution in sport, a sort of “Supreme Court of Sport”, and so much that throughout its more than thirty years of history:

  • The CAS has registered a total of five thousand and fifty-seven  procedures.
  • As a rule, the number of arbitration appeals  exceeds ordinary procedures.
  • In fact, disputes settled by the CAS are mostly arbitration appeals (80%).
  • More than half of arbitrations have arisen in the last six  years (2670 procedures, which is 52.80% of the total).
  • 2016 was the most prolific exercise in all CAS divisions (ordinary, appeals and Ad hoc – including the Anti-Doping Division for the Rio Olympic Games), with six hundred procedures.
  • The CAS has issued a total of three thousand one hundred and twenty-three awards and advisory opinions.

Our Sports law experts explains it all here:

In view of all of the above, especially the specificity of sport and its industry, it seems highly advisable to have the advice of lawyers specialized in sports law. Located in Olympic Barcelona, Avalaw is a law firm specialized in offering high quality advice to the sports industry; formed by an international team of professionals with several working languages, i.e. English, Italian, Russian, French, Finnish, Swedish orJapanese. It has extensive experience in the multidisciplinary advice of local, national and international clients, especially those related to the world of sports: clubs, sportsmen, federations, associations, professional leagues, companies and public bodies.

We are specialists in sports law and our competitive edge comes from the direct action based on the maxim “think globally, act locally”, and the fact that we approach all questions raised by our clients displaying excellence, quality and innovation.