The Court of Arbitration for Sport (a permanent arbitration institution specialised in the resolution of sports law disputes) opened a temporary office in Sochi, Russia on 28 January 2014, headed by the CAS Secretary General, Mr Matthieu Reeb. The special tribunal, known as the CAS ad hoc Division has been set up to deal with legal disputes arising during the Olympic Winter Games which are scheduled to take place in Sochi from 7 to 23 February 2014. It offers all participants in the Games with “free access to justice rendered within time limits that keep pace with the competitions”. The tribunal has been functional during each of the Winter and Summer Olympic Games since 1996 together with several editions of the FIFA World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and the UEFA European Football Championships.  

If a participant or sports entity wants to submit a dispute to the ad hoc Division during the term of the Olympic Winter Games under the provisions of the Olympic Charter, a request will need to be filed with the CAS Court Office in Sochi. The president of the ad hoc Division will then arrange a Panel composed of either a single or three arbitrators. Subsequently, a hearing will be assembled at which all parties, witnesses and potentially affected third parties will be able to submit their legal arguments and give evidence. 

The presidents of the Sochi 2014 Games tribunal will be Ms Corinne Schmidhauser (Switzerland) and Mr Michael Lenard (USA) and the tribunal will be comprised of nine arbitrators (from Canada, USA, China, Australia, Russia, Italy, Switzerland and France) responsible for settling any dispute related to the Games. The arbitrators and presidents are either judges, lawyers or professors specialised in sports law and arbitration and have been selected by the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), an independent body, under which the CAS operates. These members of the CAS ad hoc Division are independent of the parties who appear before the CAS and employ a procedure that “complies with fundamental principles of due process and procedural fairness”. The procedure is enshrined in the Arbitration Rules for the Olympic Games. 

 The ad hoc Division aims to give its decisions within 24 hours which is normally achievable by virtue of its bespoke organization and rules. The CAS has been functional in Sochi from today 28 January 2014 and will operate until 23 February 2014. 

 Read the full media release here.

Sam Churney