The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an institution independent of any sports organization which provides for services in order to facilitate the settlement of sports-related disputes through arbitration or mediation by means of procedural rules adapted to the specific needs of the sports world.
The CAS was created in 1984 and is placed under the administrative and financial authority of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS).
The CAS has nearly 300 arbitrators from 87 countries, chosen for their specialist knowledge of arbitration and sports law. Around 300 cases are registered by the CAS every year.
The CAS has the task of resolving legal disputes in the field of sport through arbitration. It does this pronouncing arbitral awards that have the same enforceability as judgements of ordinary courts.
It can also help parties solve their disputes on an amicable basis through mediation, when this procedure is allowed.
Lastly, the CAS sets up non-permanent tribunals, which it does for the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games or other similar major events. To take into account the circumstances of such events, special procedural rules are established on each occasion.
Any disputes directly or indirectly linked to sport may be submitted to the CAS. These may be disputes of a commercial nature (e.g. a sponsorship contract), or of a disciplinary nature following a decision by a sports organisation (e.g. a doping case).
Any individual or legal entity with capacity to act may have recourse to the services of the CAS. These include athletes, clubs, sports federations, organisers of sports events, sponsors or television companies.
For a dispute to be submitted to arbitration by the CAS, the parties must agree to this in writing. Such agreement may be on a one-off basis or appear in a contract or the statutes or regulations of a sports organization. Parties may agree in advance to submit any future dispute to arbitration by the CAS, or they can agree to have recourse to the CAS after a dispute has arisen.
The procedures are conducted in French or English. Under certain conditions, another language may be used.
For disputes resulting from contractual relations or torts, the ordinary arbitration procedure or the mediation procedure is applicable.
For disputes resulting from decisions taken by the internal bodies of sports organisations, the appeals arbitration procedure is applicable.
The party wishing to submit a dispute to the CAS must send the CAS Court Office a request for arbitration (ordinary procedure) or a statement of appeal (appeals procedure), the contents of which are specified by the Code of Sports-related Arbitration.
In the case of the appeals procedure, a party may lodge an appeal only if it has exhausted all the internal remedies of the sports organisation concerned.
The parties may appear alone. They may also be represented or assisted at CAS hearings by a person of their choice, not necessarily a lawyer.
Generally speaking, the arbitration is submitted to a panel of three arbitrators.
Under the ordinary procedure, each party chooses one arbitrator from the CAS list, then the two designated arbitrators agree on who will be the president of the panel. Failing such agreement, the President of the Ordinary Arbitration Division makes this selection instead of the two arbitrators.
Under the appeals procedure, each party chooses an arbitrator, and the president of the panel is selected by the President of the Appeals Arbitration Division.
If the parties agree, or if the CAS deems this appropriate, a sole arbitrator may be appointed, depending on the nature and importance of the case.
The arbitrators must be independent, that is to say have no particular connection with any of the parties, and must not have played any role in the case in question.
Once the arbitration request or statement of appeal is filed, the respondent submits a reply to the CAS.
After any additional exchange of statements of case, the parties are summoned to a hearing to be heard, produce evidence and argue their case.
The final award is communicated to the parties some weeks later, unless it is pronounced the same day (under the appeals procedure).
In the context of ordinary arbitration, the parties are free to agree on the law applicable to the merits of the dispute. Failing such agreement, Swiss law applies.
In the context of the appeals procedure, the arbitrators rule on the basis of the regulations of the body concerned by the appeal and, subsidiarily, the law of the country in which the body is domiciled. The procedure itself is governed by the Code of Sports-related Arbitration.
The ordinary procedure involves paying the relatively modest costs and fees of the arbitrators, calculated on the basis of a fixed scale of charges, plus a share of the costs of the CAS.
The disciplinary cases of an international nature ruled in appeal are free, except for an initial Court Office fee of CHF 1000.-.
The ordinary procedure lasts between 6 and 12 months.
For the appeals procedure, an award must be pronounced within three months after the transfer of the file to the Panel.
In urgent cases and upon request, the CAS may, within a very short time, order interim measures or suspend the execution of a decision appealed against.
The ordinary arbitration procedure is confidential. The parties, arbitrators and CAS staff are obliged not to disclose any information connected with the dispute. In principle, awards are not published.
The appeals arbitration procedure does not specify particular rules of confidentiality, but the arbitrators and CAS staff have a similar duty of confidentiality during the proceedings. Generally speaking, unless the parties agree otherwise, the award may be published by the CAS.
An award pronounced by the CAS is final and binding on the parties from the moment it is communicated. It may in particular be enforced in accordance with the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards, which more than 125 countries have signed.
Judicial recourse to the Swiss Federal Tribunal is allowed on a very limited number of grounds, such as lack of jurisdiction, violation of elementary procedural rules (e.g. violation of the right to a fair hearing) or incompatibility with public policy.
Mediation is a non-binding and informal procedure, based on a mediation agreement in which each party undertakes to attempt in good faith to negotiate with the other party, and with the assistance of a CAS mediator, with a view to settling a sports-related dispute.
The party wishing to institute mediation proceedings addresses a request in writing to the CAS Court Office. Then, a mediator is appointed by the parties from among the list of CAS mediators or, in the absence of any agreement, by the CAS President after consultation with the parties.
The mediation procedure is conducted in the manner agreed by the parties. Failing such agreement, the mediator determines the manner in which the mediation will be conducted. The mediator promotes the settlement of the issues in dispute in any way that he believes to be appropriate. To achieve this, he will propose solutions. However, the mediator may not impose a solution of the dispute on either party. If successful, the mediation is terminated by the signing of a settlement by the parties.
The CAS head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Two decentralized offices are also available to the parties: one in Sydney, Australia, the other in New York, United States
What is the Court of Arbitration for Sport ?
What is the function of the CAS ?
What kinds of dispute can be submitted to the CAS ?
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