Sports Arbitration

Our arbitration service provides a final and binding resolution to all kinds of sports disputes where the parties need a decision to be made on a specific matter.

In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court. The parties consent to arbitration via an arbitration or appeals clause incorporated into the regulations of a sport or contract or by entering into a matter specific arbitration agreement.

The service includes:

  • Appointment of a sport specific panel of independent arbitrator(s)
  • Guidance and assistance in setting up and organising arbitration in accordance with our Arbitration Rules and using our standard Arbitration Agreement
  • Case management assistance to keep the arbitration to time and budget  
  • Attendance at the hearing to support the parties and the tribunal and to make a digital audio recording of proceedings
  • Liaison with the parties and the tribunal over distribution of the arbitration award
  • Use of our purpose designed arbitration centre

Examples of sports disputes that we have resolved by arbitration include:

  • Appeals against disciplinary sanctions
  • Appeals against athlete selection decisions
  • Commercial and contractual issues
  • Discrimination claims
  • Funding appeals
  • Relegation and promotion issues
  • Player eligibility


What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a private dispute resolution process in which the parties consent to the final and binding determination of their dispute by a panel of independent and expert arbitrator(s). It is governed by the 1996 Arbitration Act and is managed in accordance with Sport Resolutions’ Arbitration Rules.

What does this mean in practice?

An independent arbitrator or panel of arbitrators are appointed with the consent of the parties. The parties present written arguments and evidence in accordance with a timetable agreed with the arbitrator(s) and in accordance with Sport Resolutions’ Arbitration Rules. A hearing is held in which evidence is presented and witnesses are cross-examined. At the end of the hearing, the arbitrator(s) retire and within a few days produce a detailed written award which is final and binding on the parties.

How does a Sport Resolutions arbitration get organised?

To start the process off, the parties to a dispute must consent to bring the matter to Sport Resolutions. Such agreement may be automatically incorporated into a relevant regulation, rule or contract or alternatively the parties may enter into an ad hoc arbitration agreement. The effect of the consent is to confer jurisdiction on Sport Resolutions to work with the parties to resolve their dispute by way of arbitration.

The claimant or appellant files a notice of arbitration setting out the nature of the dispute and the remedy or outcome sought, the name and addresses of all parties to the arbitration and a copy of the relevant rule, contract clause or arbitration agreement which confers jurisdiction on Sport Resolutions. A non-returnable deposit may also be requested at this stage.A panel of arbitrator(s) is appointed in collaboration with the parties.

Throughout the process Sport Resolutions acts as secretariat to the tribunal and all communication with the panel is made through the Sport Resolutions office. The chair of the panel of arbitrator(s) holds a directions hearing (normally by telephone conference call) in which a timetable is set for filing documents with the tribunal. The date, venue and length of the hearing is also set. The directions are usually confirmed in writing by way of a Directions Order.

How much and who has to pay?

The cost of the arbitration is usually split equally between the parties. This includes the fees and expenses of the arbitrator(s), the administration fees of Sport Resolutions and any costs for hiring a hearing venue or live transcription service. Fees vary depending on factors such as the number of arbitrators, the length of the hearing and the number of files that need to be read by the tribunal in advance of the hearing.

As a rough guide the cost of a one day arbitration before a sole arbitrator will range from £1000 to £3000 per party. Fees will be lower if an oral hearing is not necessary. Parties are responsible for their own fees for legal representation before the tribunal. Additional charges will be made for additional hearing days. Parties are free to agree how costs are to be split irrespective of outcome.

How are the arbitrator(s) chosen?

Sport Resolutions maintains an extensive list of arbitrators with knowledge and experience of sport and the commercial and regulatory environment of sport. Sport Resolutions’ Arbitration Rules provide for the parties to opt for a sole arbitrator or a panel of three. The chair of an arbitration panel will always be legally qualified and wing members come from a broader range of professional backgrounds.

The Arbitration Rules provide for flexibility in how the arbitrators are appointed. The parties may ask Sport Resolutions to appoint arbitrator(s) with specific skills or experiences or alternatively they may choose from a list of arbitrators which is provided by us.

What is an arbitration agreement?

A contract between the parties which binds them to the arbitration process. It usually sets out the nature of the dispute. the names of the parties, how the costs of the tribunal will be shared and other factors such as the number of tribunal members. Sport Resolutions has a standard arbitration agreement template to assist the parties in drawing up an agreement.

How is the hearing timetable and location decided?

The parties normally agree when and where an arbitration hearing will take place along with the timetable to be followed in the lead up to the hearing. The chair of the tribunal is available to help resolve any procedural issues that the parties cannot agree between themselves. Where necessary, a telephone directions hearing is held to assist the process. 

Arbitration hearings are held in private and attendance is restricted to those directly involved in the proceedings. Hearings are normally held at Sport Resolutions Arbitration and Mediation Centre at 1 Paternoster Lane, London, or at any venue that the parties agree between themselves. 

How is the decision of the arbitration panel communicated?

Arbitration awards are normally given in writing, with detailed reasons, within three weeks of the conclusion of the hearing. They are distributed by e-mail to the parties. The parties may request a verbal decision with written reasons to follow if the matter is urgent. E.g. where an important sporting event is directly related to the decision. Arbitration awards are only published if the parties agree to do so.

How do I appeal against an arbitration award?

Arbitration usually provides a final and binding resolution to a dispute. Any right of appeal will be determined on what was agreed between the parties involved in the arbitration process or any appeal clause of provision in the applicable rules that govern the process.