Sports disputes

energetic, easy to deal with, and bright…

Chambers UK 2014

Our specialist sports disputes lawyers have extensive experience in delivering intelligent and cost-effective solutions when dealing with contentious matters.

We are passionate about sport, and our long-standing association with clients in the world of sport means that we have an in-depth understanding of the industry.  We act for Governing Bodies and individuals.

Many of our lawyers have spent long periods on secondment with governing bodies such as the RFU, Lawn Tennis Association and the British Olympic Association.  We have first-hand experience of the commercial, reputational and financial pressures which operate in the sports sector, and this enriches the advice which our specialists are able to provide.

Regulatory disputes

Farrer & Co is widely acknowledged as a leading advisor to sports governing bodies and is frequently instructed to advise on disputes arising from the administration of their own selection, disciplinary and appeals policies.  Our involvement can span the full life-cycle of the dispute, from:

  • the drafting of rules and regulations;
  • advising on the legalities of a selection or disciplinary issue;
  • providing support throughout the internal processes;
  • advising upon or conducting pre-action negotiations with a discontented player or athlete; and
  • representing the governing body in High Court litigation or appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

We also advise on the establishment of independent panels to consider appeals against penalties for rule breaches including doping offences and misconduct issues, whether on or off-field. Matters on which we have advised include:

  • advising NGB on high court processdings concerning allegations of misconduct by parent;
  • advising witnesses on sport investigation;
  • advising IFs at CAS hearings relating to drug use and enforcement of rules;
  • advising NGB on dispute with European Federation;

Commercial disputes

Our advice to sports clients extends far beyond regulatory issues; our Disputes Team is expertly equipped to help navigate through complex and high-profile disputes with commercial partners such as joint venture partners, sponsors, suppliers and advisers.

Reputation management

Sporting disputes often involve reputational damage.  Sometimes this is the focus of the dispute, at times it is ancillary. We are expert in handling reputational issues and crises, looking to protect and, if possible, enhance the client's reputation. This involves practical use of the law, but it also adopting PR strategies, typically working with specialist PR advisers. Examples of our recent work include:

  • advising NGB on defamation claim brought by former chairman;
  • advising individuals on privacy issues, including those arising out of court proceedings;
  • advising individuals and NGBs on online issues concerning defamatory, private, harassing and criminal activity adverse to the clients reputation.

More information

For more information contact one of our specialist advisers above or email us at

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