Arbitration in the domain of Sports Law
Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), mainly denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes that act as a means of disagreeing parties to come to an agreement without using the means of litigation. It is a collective term which refers to the ways in which the parties can settle disputes, with the help of a third party. ADR has gained widespread acceptance among both the general public and the legal profession in the recent years and is also being adopted as the means to help settle disputes alongside court system itself. One of the most popular forms of ADR is arbitration. This article mainly focuses on the role of arbitration in the realm of sports law, both in Indian as well as International context.
Sports has been an integral part of histories of all the countries of the world and has been prevalent in all the major civilisations, be it the Sumerian civilisation or the Indus Valley civilisation. In fact, it had a major role to play during the British rule in India. In the earlier days, the only thing that was relevant was the skills, talent and sportsmanship of the sportsmen which earned them fame and recognition. However, malpractice, drug abuse, political agendas, etc. made its way into sports and ruined the sanctity of the same. These incidents of malpractices were later taken to the court and the prolonged litigation surrounding these delayed the delivery of justice on both domestic and international platforms. It must be remembered that the sports industry is more than just games and entertainment organisations. The industry is formed by various relationships between athletes, sports federations, etc. Hence, in the current circumstances, it is crucial to introduce a governing authority that cannot only render speedy justice, but can do so in an affordable manner. Here is where arbitration comes into picture as an effective means to resolve disputes.
On the international platform, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) was established as an international quasi-judicial body, to settle disputes related to sports through the process of arbitration. It was established at Lausanne, Switzerland by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1983. It’s the highest authority for resolving disputes between disputing sports federation and is often regarded as the ‘Sports Supreme Court of the world’. In CAS, if the parties are unable to mutually decide upon an effective law, then the Swiss Law applies. Its headquarters is in Lausanne and its courts are located in New York City, Sydney and Lausanne.
When it comes to India, a huge number of cases are being piled up resulting in delayed justice due to the judiciary’s functional mechanism. The governing authorities with regards sports in India are the National Sports Policy of India, Sports Authorities of India (SAI), The Sports Broadcasting Laws and the Sports Law and Welfare Associations of India. These organisations tend to regulate the laws or settle disputes in the field of sports. However, one of the major problems in India is that the sports managers in India are not really aware of the rules and procedural aspects of arbitration. A proper set of regulatory laws are required to be framed to manage the area of sports India.
In a country like India, where sports is considered as a form of religion, sports law is somewhat unexplored since it’s a relatively fresh concept and hence faces issues in the process of ADR. Litigation being a long and tedious process, the details of a case can only be handled in a process like arbitration. Therefore, it is undoubtedly a simpler process than litigation and should be promoted for the welfare of sports and to protect its sanctity.