A discussion of the advantages and risks inherent in the resort to “specialists” in connection with the adjudication of sports disputes calls for the examination of a number of aspects that are intertwined, as we will see. This topic is very much about discussing the two sides of a coin, actually of a number of similar coins. In the interest of clarity, I will distinguish the coins and the sides.
Justice by “Specialists”. Judges... What does “Justice by Specialists” actually mean? Civil justice has always been a matter (mostly) for specialists—judges are professionals, hence “specialists”.1
… and Arbitrators. The same is true in commercial arbitration. In many areas of arbitration resort is often had to specialists sitting as arbitrators.2 The parties appoint their arbitrators whom they are deemed to regard as specialists; sometimes (but not often) such specialists are not lawyers either by training or profession.
Arbitrators in Sports Arbitration. In the context of sports arbitration, there are two features worth recalling from the outset: (i) the resolution of sports disputes is organised by bodies from within the sports community3 in accordance with their own procedures and (ii) arbitrators are lawyers, in significant part drawn from the sports arena.
Disputes in Sports Arbitration. Sports arbitration covers a broad range of disputes.4 Some sports disputes are simply commercial disputes arising in a particular sports context (e.g. a sponsorship agreement).5 By contrast, other disputes may be regarded as typical sports disputes arising under sports regulations (e.g. disqualification or ban of an athlete).6 Between ordinary commercial disputes and typical sports disputes there is a vast area including mixed disputes (e.g. a dispute arising out of an employment contract between a professional football player and a club).7