The new National Sports Tribunal (NST) may just be the forum that sports have been looking for to provide cost effective and independent dispute resolutions processes.
The NST introduced by the Australian Government in response to the Report of the Review of Australia’s Sports Integrity Arrangements (Wood Review), adds another review channel in an already complex and crowded web of interconnected structures across the sporting landscape. In an endeavour to boost integrity in sport, the NST is designed to provide effective, efficient, independent, transparent and specialist tribunal for the resolution of sporting disputes, including smaller sports that currently do not have their own judicial structures. But the bigger question is will the NST add value to the sector and if so where does it fit?
The NST consists of three divisions:
- Anti-Doping Division will hear anti-doping rule violations where a sports internal ASADA approved anti-doping policy and tribunal structure provides for this or alternatively where the parties, including ASADA, agree for it to be heard by the NST.
- General Division will arbitrate general sporting disputes where the constituent documents governing the sport provide for NST involvement or alternatively where the parties agree for the dispute to be heard by the NST.
- Appeals Division will hears appeals from either of the other two divisions, or an internal sports tribunal process where the constituent documents governing the sport provide for NST involvement, or where the parties, including ASADA for anti-doping decisions, agree for it to be heard by the Appeals Division.
The NST has broad ranging powers, including the power to compel witnesses to attend, answer questions and to produce documents. The NST can also institute alternative dispute resolution (ADR) (i.e. mediation, conciliation or case appraisal) procedures in certain circumstances.
The introduction of NST requires careful consideration by sporting bodies and those participating in sport at any level. Sporting organisations should review their existing contracts, policies, rules and judicial structures (which would constitute what is referred to but not defined as constituent documents in the legislation) in respect to anti-doping and general dispute resolution. The review needs to consider the benefits the NST may be able to provide to the sport and to determine whether or not the NST should be embedded into the sport and its constituent documents. Athletes also need to review their individual contracts in line with the relevant governing bodies constituent document framework. For smaller sports that may not have a clear judicial framework established or allocate finite resources to these processes, may benefit from the NST and the resources it will provide.
KKI’s Commercial Team supports sports governing bodies and athletes on a daily basis and can support a review of the potential impact, interface, benefits and opportunities the NST may have on the sport or individual athletes.