Hilary Findlay, along with her colleague Marcus Mazzucco from the University of Victoria, have recently had a couple of articles accepted for publication in American law journals. One article, titled Degrees of Intervention in Sport-Specific Arbitration: Are We Moving Towards a Universal Model of Decision-Making? is currently at press with the Penn State Dickinson School of Law Arbitration and Mediation Yearbook (2010).
In this paper, Findlay and Mazzucco reviewed dozens of arbitration decisions from both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), established in 1983, and the more recent Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), established in 2004. In this review, the authors have found a pattern of arbitral decision-making. The authors note that under both CAS and SDRCC, arbitrators have been given broad power to make binding decisions but have typically chosen to show restraint in their decision making. These arbitrators have tended to recognize the authority of sport governing bodies to define policy and administer their own affairs, but have also sought to balance this autonomy with ensuring that universal principles of fairness and good governance are recognized and respected.
Through this pattern of restraint, general principles of intervention can be identified to help better describe the jurisprudence of both CAS and SDRCC. Both tribunals publish their decisions, and this has allowed the development of a common approach to sport arbitration, providing a valuable legacy of non-binding precedents for arbitrators. The commonalities across both of these tribunals (including the pattern of judicial restraint) may be indicative of a harmonizing standard for all sport arbitration and, eventually, a universal decision-making model for sport dispute resolution that is consistent, predictable and fair.
Originally published: Centre for Sport and Law Newsletter (2010) Vol. 6(2)