The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or Tribunal arbitral du sport (TAS) is an independent quasi-judicial body established in 1984 and is placed under the administrative and financial authority of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS). The inception of ICAS provided independence to the CAS from IOC pursuant to the Paris Agreement. It also led to the diversification of jurisdiction with the creation of the Original Arbitration Division and Appellate Arbitration Division. International Sports Law is more than a static set of rules and regulations. It is better described as a way of avoiding and resolving disputes. Hence, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism plays a pivotal role in this arena.
The CAS resolves legal disputes through arbitration based on principles like lex ludica, good governance, procedural fairness, harmonization of standards between international sporting federations, and equitable treatment. This court can also refer to certain cases for mediation to solve them amicably. Standard procedures for avoiding disputes have also been materialized within the process of international sports law. A good example is an anti-doping resolution adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).
The CAS contributes to formulating principles of Lex-Sportiva thus galvanizing the transnational process arising out of international arbitration. It also has well-documented mediation rules and procedures. Settling disputes through ADR ensures a speedy and cost-effective process. The CAS Ad Hoc Division is a body that is activated only during specific events like FIFA World Cup, Commonwealth Games, and so on. It corroborates the issuance of arbitral awards within 24 hours of application. Effective provisional and conservatory measures are applied before the commencement of substantive arbitration to expedite the resolution even further.CAS has established a list of pro bono counsels to assist parties without financial means. Rules 64 and 65 of the CAS Code ensure that the reasonableness of the costs involved.
The awards achieved by ADR are considered to be compliable by the sports bodies. The domestic laws of various countries modeled on the UNICTRAL law tend to facilitate this process, However, it is permissible to set aside a foreign award in India by applying the provisions of section 34 of Part I of the Arbitration and Reconciliation Act, 1996 if the judgment debtor invokes the public policy of India. The Supreme Court of India also upheld in the case of ONGC v. Saw Pipesthat the test of public policy means an award that is patently illegal and violates the statutory provisions of Indian law or terms of the contract.
CAS arbitrators refrain from reviewing the determinations made on the playing field by judges, referees, umpires, or other officials who are charged with applying what are sometimes called ‘rules of the game.’ The match officials have the autonomy to decide over technical issues on the field and their decisions are not subject to appeals. This concept of Lex-Ludica implies that certain matters are not suitable for legal intervention by the CAS and the expert opinions shall be respected in technical matters.