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14 ESLJ 1 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/entersport14 and id is 1 raw text is: 
                                                      Donnellan, L 2016 Dispute Resolution in Irish Sport: The Courts
                                                      as Reluctant Interlopers. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal,
                                                      14: 1, pp.1-15, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.16997/eslj.195





ARTICLE

Dispute Resolution in Irish Sport: The Courts as

Reluctant Interlopers

Laura   Donnellan
Lecturer in Law, School of Law, University of Limerick, Ireland
laura.donnellan@ul.ie


In the past decade  there have been  a number  of judicial review cases involving sports governing bodies
in Ireland. While the courts have been willing to hear such cases, it has been repeatedly emphasised that
judicial intervention in the decisions of sporting organisations should not occur lightly and recourse to
the courts should only happen  in the most exceptional of circumstances. The Irish courts have referred to
the need  for sports bodies to submit  their dispute to arbitration or mediation. In Ireland there are two
domestic  bodies offering alternative dispute resolution in the sporting context: Just Sport Ireland (JSI)
and the  Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) of the  Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The availability of
alternative forms of dispute resolution in Ireland provides a welcome alternative to the expensive, often
divisive, option of judicial review proceedings. Given the benefits of resolution of disputes through the
DRA  or JSI and in light of the Irish courts' general reluctance to become involved in sporting disputes, it is
likely that these processes will become increasingly availed of, most pertinently as Sport Ireland (formerly
Irish Sports Council (ISC)) has made it a condition for recognition for new governing bodies and has been
actively encouraging existing sports governing  bodies to insert a referral clause in their rules.


Keywords:  judicial review; Ireland; sports governing bodies; alternative dispute resolution; referral clauses


Introduction
A number  of sports-related cases have come before the Irish courts in the last decade (for example see: Byrne v Irish
Sports Council [2013] IEHC 438; Conway v Irish Tug of War Association and Others [2011] IEHC 245, Jacob v Irish
Amateur Rowing  Union Ltd [2008] IEHC 196; ]RM Sports Ltd (Trading as Limerick Football Club) v The Football Asso-
ciation of Ireland [2007] IEHC 67; O'Connell & Another v The Turf Club & Another [2014] IEHC 175; Hyland v Dundalk
Racing (1999) Ltd t/a Dundalk Stadium [2014] IEHC 60; Hyland v Dundalk Racing (1999) Ltd t/a Dundalk Stadium
(No.2) [2015] IEHC 57; O'Hare & Another v Dundalk Racing (1999) Ltd t/a Dundalk Stadium [2015] IEHC 198 and
O'Connell and Lambe v The Turf Club [2015] IESC 57). While these cases have resulted in judicial intervention in the
decisions of sports governing bodies, the judges have consistently emphasised that governing bodies should exhaust
the relevant internal mechanisms and instead of seeking redress in the courts, the matter should be resolved using
arbitration or mediation. In January 2015, two High Court judgments were handed down in three test cases involv-
ing a 14 day hearing which addressed issues of quantum (Hyland v Dundalk Racing (1999) Ltd t/a Dundalk Stadium
(No.2) [2015] IEHC 57; O'Hare & Another v Dundalk Racing (1999) Ltd t/a Dundalk Stadium [2015] IEHC 198). Mr
Justice Hogan highlighted the need for sports governing bodies to configure their internal dispute mechanisms
along the lines of the Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA) of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) so that even in
cases involving complex issues as those presented in the three test cases could be appropriately resolved instead
of seeking redress in the courts. Not only do the courts contend that these matters are best dealt with internally
or through independent arbitration or mediation, they also raise the issue of public money being spent on costly
litigation. All recognised sports governing bodies in Ireland receive direct funding from Sport Ireland and indirectly
from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS). It raises the question whether it is appropriate that
tax payers' money be used to fund such disputes. As a corollary, the reduced funds available for the sport due to the
costly litigation means that the governing body diverts the much needed funds away from developing and nurturing
the sport and its sports persons.
  In discussing the three test cases, this article will examine the judicial review of sports governing bodies in
Ireland. It will proceed to examine the recent approach of the Irish Sports Council (ISC)/Sport Ireland (Sport Ireland
since October 2015) and its requirement that all governing bodies include a dispute resolution mechanism within
their rules. Developments within Just Sport Ireland (JSI) will also be discussed as Sport Ireland and JSI become

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