Members of 2 Hare Court possess a breadth and depth of expertise across a range of areas of sports law, including gambling regulation, corruption, inquests and public inquiries, anti-doping, licensing, and on- and off-field violence and disorder by athletes.
The great strength of Chambers in sports law is being in a position to marshal the highest standards of written and oral advocacy, keen tactical judgement, and the client-focused approach honed in other areas of practice, and deploying them in the sports law setting.
In addition to achieving the best legal and/or disciplinary outcomes for clients, we understand the commercial and reputational concerns that clients often rightly have in this context, and provide advice that is directed to those concerns.
Appearing before a number of different sport governing bodies and adjudicative tribunals, from the Football Association, to the National Anti-Doping Panel, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, members of Chambers are able to offer a comprehensive service of advice and representation to individuals, clubs, and corporate clients, as well as various sports governing bodies. Demanding the very highest standards of all of our members, Chambers’ expertise in sports law extends across all levels of call. This breadth of experience and expertise can and does, where necessary, extend to representing clients in criminal proceedings at the most serious level.
BHA v. Jim and Suzie Best
Jonathan Laidlaw QC successfully appealed the British Horseracing Authority’s four year suspension of Jim Best – owner of Grandstand Stables in Lewes – for instructing a jockey to ride two horses other than on their merits. Having found that a there was the potential for an appearance of bias on the part of the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel, and that insufficient reasons were given for the Disciplinary Panel’s decision, the Appeal Board allowed the appeal and ordered a re-hearing of the case. At the re-hearing of the case Mr Best admitted the charges and was suspended for six months. In subsequent proceedings Mr Best’s wife, Suzie Best, represented by Brendan Kelly QC, was successful in her own application for a trainer licence, despite her application being strenuously resisted by the BHA.
FA v. Joey Barton
Chris Coltart QC represented the Football Association in proceedings brought against Joey Barton for his placing of over 1,200 bets on football in breach of the FA’s Rules. An 18 month suspension imposed by the Independent Regulatory Commission was subsequently reduced on appeal. Mr Barton’s suspension will now end on 1 June 2018.
IAAF v. Valentin Balakhnichev and Others
Jonathan Laidlaw QC represented the International Association of Athletics Federations in an appeal brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport by a number of top Russian athletics officials. The case concerned the blackmailing of former London Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova in order to cover up positive doping tests. Following a hearing in November 2016, CAS announced that the lifetime bans were upheld against the former head of the Russian Athletics Federation, Valentin Balakhnichev; the former Head Distance Coach for Russia, Alexei Melnikov; and a former marketing consultant to the IAAF and son of the former IAAF President, Papa Massata Diack.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC and Tom Day were instructed to represent the FA in the inquest into the Hillsborough football disaster in which 96 football supporters lost their lives. The inquest was historic both in its scale and its conclusion. It sat for 319 days, and heard live evidence from 620 witnesses. The verdict of the inquest jury included the finding that the 96 who died had been unlawfully killed. Nikita McNeill was instructed by Sir John Goldring as Junior Counsel to the Inquest, and a number of members of Chambers were involved in the disclosure of material to the Inquest.