CTH Passes Two Acts That Establish The National Sports Tribunal

Tuesday 24 September 2019 @ 11.32 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

On 19 September, the National Sports Tribunal Act 2019 (Cth) (‘the Principal Act’) and the National Sports Tribunal (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2019 (Cth) (‘the Amending Act’) received assent as Acts 68 and 69 of 2019 respectively.  The National Sports Tribunal Act 2019 (Cth) and the National Sports Tribunal (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2019 (Cth) were originally introduced into the House of Representatives by Karen Andrews, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology (‘the Minister’).  Both bills finally passed through both Houses on 11 September 2019. The Acts are intended to help establish an effective, independent, transparent and specialist tribunal to facilitate sports-related dispute resolution.

The Principal Act

The Principal Act primarily outlines the establishment, administration and operation of the National Sports Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) which will consist of an Anti-Doping Division, a General Division and an Appeals Division. The members of the Tribunal are appointed by the Minister. Members are required to have a specialised background in an appropriate field of expertise such as sports law, dispute resolution and ethics and are restricted to a maximum of 5 years of office.

The Anti-Doping Division (outlined in Part 3, Division 2 of the Principal Act) is intended to provide arbitration for anti-doping rule violation disputes provided the relevant sporting body has an anti-doping policy approved by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASDA) CEO. The policy must be binding on the athlete or support person and must permit disputes of this kind to be heard by the Tribunal’s Anti-Doping Division. Disputes which require a hearing under the World Anti-Doping Code and disputes concerning anti-doping policies that do not permit disputes of this kind to be heard by the Tribunal’s Anti-Doping Division cannot be resolved by the Anti-Doping Division.

The purpose of the General Division is to provide arbitration for a range of disputes including breaches of code of conduct, disciplinary matters, selection disputes and member protection issues. Similar rules to the Anti-Doping Division apply. Part 3, Division 3 of the Principal Act states that the General Division will only address disputes where one or more of the parties are bound by one or more constituent documents by which a sporting body is constituted. The documents must permit the matter to be heard by the Tribunal’s General Division otherwise both parties must agree in writing to have the dispute hear in the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s CEO may grant approval for a dispute to be heard by the Tribunal but the CEO must be satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances to justify approval such as a protracted dispute that despite reasonable efforts at resolution is not likely to be resolved in a timely manner. The General Division will also provide for alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation, conciliation or case appraisal.

The Appeals Division, under Part 3, Division 6 of the Principal Act, will accept and hear appeals from the General and Anti-Doping Divisions. The determination of appeals will take effect on the day specified in the determination and the Tribunal is required to give the parties written notice of determination and justifications for determination.

In general, according to Division 8 of the Principal Act, the methods of arbitration to be used by the Tribunal must be conducted “with as little formality and technicality, with as much expedition and at the least cost the parties”. Section 44 also creates offences for failure to take an oath, refusal to answer a question and knowingly providing false or misleading evidence where a person is a witness before the Tribunal required to perform the relevant action. All three offences incur a penalty of 12 months imprisonment with the first two offences incurring an additional civil penalty of 60 units.

The Amending Act

The Amending Act addresses consequential and transitional matters that result from the operation of the Principal Act. The Amending Act makes amendments including:

  • Paragraph 13(1)(k) of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 (‘Anti-Doping Act’) states that the National Anti-Doping Scheme is required to authorise the ASADA CEO, in certain circumstances, to present its recommendations at hearings of certain tribunals. The Amending Act includes the National Sports Tribunal in the non-exhaustive list of relevant tribunals.
  • Subsection 13D(3) of the Anti-Doping Act, ensures that material obtained under a disclosure notice under that Act can be presented as evidence in certain tribunals. The Amending Act includes the National Sports Tribunal in the non-exhaustive list of relevant tribunals.
  • Schedule 3 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, cites certain material which is exempt from release under that Act. The Amending Act ensures that information protected by the secrecy provision at Section 72 of the Principal Act is included in the list of exempt materials.

Response to Wood Review

The passing of both Acts was intended to demonstrate the Federal Government’s response to the recommendations outlined in the Review of Australia’s Sports Integrity Arrangements (the Wood Review) conducted in 2018.

The Minister in her second reading speech stated:

 Indeed, the Wood review found that sports are challenged by a range of mounting integrity threats, including the increasing sophistication and incidence of doping, the globalisation of sports wagering particularly through rapidly growing illegal online gambling markets, the infiltration and exploitation of the sports sector by organised crime, corruption in sports administration and growing participant protection issues. (…)This government is intent on providing participants in sport with a fair, efficient and cost-effective forum of the resolution of sports disputes.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

National Sports Tribunal Act 2019 (Cth), National Sports Tribunal (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2019 (Cth), Bills and explanatory material, available from TimeBase's LawOne service

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