The notion of arbitration defines the way in which a dispute is settled by a third party. Specifically in the context of legal terminology, however, it connotes an institution which consists in the settlement of a certain category of disputes by judges who are chosen by the litigants (mainly of private nature). The notion of arbitration as an institution has existed since antiquity and was already known in the Hellenic inter-city law, which, in one sense, presented very few variations throughout history and constituted the first form of dispensing justice. The settlement of disputes by arbitration has prevailed since the times of Homer. For over thirty years, the landscape of international sports arbitration has been dominated by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The CAS is colloquially referred to as a Supreme Court for sports disputes and evidence of its influence is found throughout the sporting world. Since its establishment in 1984 it has registered approximately 4,200 separate arbitration proceedings. This work seeks to give an insight into what makes international sports arbitration unique paying particular attention to the CAS system, the key elements of which we would also outline. While sports arbitration shares many characteristics with commercial or investment arbitration, and although many sports arbitrators also sit in standard commercial and investment cases, it also has many interesting features that distinguish it from non-sports-related arbitration. The principle of international law that States “shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means” and not by resort to force is not only applicable to the purview of international law and politics but is also applicable in international sports law.
In international relations, most disputes are settled through negotiation between the parties or by third-party assistance in the form of good offices, conciliation or the conduct of fact-finding inquiries. One of the most interesting aspects of sports arbitration is that awards issued by an arbitral tribunal tend to be regarded as an authoritative precedent by subsequent arbitral tribunals from the same sports arbitration institution. While sports arbitration awards are not binding legal precedents, previous awards are regarded as being of highly persuasive value, and as such, arbitral tribunals that deviate from an established line of ‘jurisprudence’ are generally expected to provide reasons for such a deviation in the text of their award. However, in the interest of comity and legal certainty they are usually prepared to do so. As a result, a very useful body of sports law is being steadily built up.
This work would further assess the effect of sports arbitration in international law and jurisprudence particularly owing to the fact that sports arbitration in this part of the world is still developing. The study adopts a doctrinal and empirical approach since the work describes and analyses the current trend in arbitration and judicial settlement of disputes in international sports law. The objective is to as much as possible bring to the limelight the nature and scope of arbitration in international sports law as well as a juxtaposition of the concept of arbitration in commercial, investment and international disputes. It is our findings that in international sports law, arbitration has proven to be an extremely successful method of resolving sports disputes, and as a result it has gained the favour and confidence of the sporting world.
This success has inevitably led to a massive increase in the number of sports arbitrations taking place in recent years. Perhaps the greatest challenge that the sports arbitration community is now faced with is the need to put structures in place to ensure that the increase in the number of arbitrations does not lead to a decrease in the quality of the awards being issued. To this end we recommend that the bulk of resources, both financial and intellectual, should be dedicated to the establishment of a high-quality ‘national CAS’ in every country for the resolution of national level disputes, and a similarly high-quality arbitral body in each sport, to resolve international sports disputes.
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APPLICABILITY OF ARBITRATION IN DISPUTE SETTLEMENT IN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS LAW