Guest post by Kimberly John, Juris Doctor candidate at The Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University, who explains how a specialist ad hoc court will resolve legal disputes at the Sochi Games – fast.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is preparing to set up a temporary office in Sochi to resolve legal disputes quickly during the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic games, or 10 days before the Opening Ceremony.
The CAS ad hoc Division is composed of nine arbitrators from different countries and will be lead by American Michael Lenard and Swiss Corrine Schmidhauser.
All members of the ad hoc Division are either lawyers or professors specializing in sports law and arbitration, and will be trusted to apply the fundamental principles of procedural fairness and due process that are at the foundation of CAS adjudication.
An ad hoc Division presence at the summer and winter Olympic Games is a practice that was started in 1996 by The International Council for Arbitration for Sport, which oversees and finances the CAS. The arbitrators are on-call 24/7 to settle disputes quickly and free of charge.
The process for bringing a claim before the CAS ad hoc Division is well laid out in the CAS rules. Any individual or sports entity may submit an issue to the ad hoc Division under the Olympic rules by filing a claim stating the facts of the situation and the claimant’s request for relief.
A panel of arbitrators is then quickly assembled and holds a hearing where all parties and witnesses present their legal arguments and evidence. Finally, the panel deliberates and applies the Olympic Charter, the applicable regulations, and general principles of law to reach a decision within 24 hours.
The decision is enforceable immediately and cannot be appealed or challenged. This prompt process for handling disputes avoids unnecessary delays in the competitions at the Olympic Games.
The ad hoc Division hears a variety of disputes, including, but not limited to, issues of national eligibility rules, validity of athlete suspensions by the International Olympic Committee, application of International Federation rulings on the athletes, doping violations, commercial advertising issues at the Games, and the manipulation of sporting rules for strategic advantage.
However, the ad hoc Division has consistently refused to arbitrate disputes relating to decisions made in the course of competition. Remaining firm in its Field-of-Play Principle of non-interference with technical sport rules, ad hoc Division panels at past Olympic Games have held that they could not review a determination of the rules of the game, unless the claim is that the rules have been applied in bad faith.
The presence of the ad hoc Division at the Olympic Games remains an important independent body to ensure impartial, binding, and speedy results to disputes to allow the Olympic Games to continue unhindered.
The ad hoc Division is Sochi opens on January 28, and operate until February 23, the last day of the Games.