Just Sport Ireland – Arbitration – Top Tips

Just Sport Ireland is a sports specific arbitral body that appoints sport savvy arbitrators and mediators to resolve disputes.

Over 60 National Governing Bodies in Ireland have included a JSI arbitration clause in their rules. That means that where a dispute ordinarily would end up in Court it now must go to JSI arbitration.

If you or your governing body are faced with a JSI arbitration then take heed of the following 10 tips: –
1. Timeline
Any reference to arbitration must happen within usually a 7 of 14 day timeline from the date of the decision being challenged, depending on the rules of the National Governing Body. This must be strictly adhered to so make sure you do not fall foul of strict timelines.

2. Speed
The process is usually over and done from start to finish in 2 weeks. This requires a legal team who appreciate the intensity that is required.

3. New appeal document
Historically parties commencing JSI arbitration had to file a Notice of Appeal and Statement of Appeal. Thankfully JSI have consolidated that into one document. JSI still have both versions up on their website so do not get confused,

4. Supporting documents
Both appeal and reply submissions must be accompanied by supporting documents which are circulated to the other side and the arbitrator. You can request documents from the other side although enforcement of delivery of such documents requests tends to be weak.

5. Witnesses
Both appeal and reply forms must be accompanied by witnesses that you intend to call together with witness statements. Your legal advisors need to identify what the issues in dispute are, who can give evidence in relation to such issues and then have such witnesses prepare witness statements.

6. Venue
The venue is flexible usually influenced by the half way point between the parties,

7. Hearing times
Hearings usually start in the evening, to accommodate the arbitrators’ day jobs. That means hearing can often go into the small hours. Eat well beforehand!

8. Format
The format mirrors a court hearing, with the appellant giving an opening statement and then witnesses are called and cross examined. Likewise for the Respondent. Prepare questions based on the witness statements received relative to the issues in dispute.

9. Decision
The arbitrator will give a written, reasoned decision after the hearing. Do not expect a decision immediately at the end of the hearing.

10. Final and binding
While arbitration decisions are usually final and binding, some NGB rules allow for a further appeal of the arbitration award to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Remember – he arbitrator cannot replace the original decision with his/her decision.

11. Costs
The normal rule that ‘costs follow the event’ i.e. your costs are paid by the losing party, does not apply in JSI arbitration. At best you can expect the losing party to pay the arbitrator’s fee and make a ‘contribution’ (€2-3K) to the winning party’s costs.

12. Confidentiality
The arbitration and the decision of the arbitrator aka ‘award’ are private. That means that details of the arbitration beyond the net decision can be divulged in public.

13. Not a Court
JSI arbitration is a much more casual affair than the Courts. JSI arbitrators do not generally entertain strict Court rules.

This publication is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. No liability is accepted by Ogier Leman for any action taken or not taken in reliance on the information set out in this publication. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. Any and all information is subject to change.