Once you have exhausted all internal Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) remedies, you may take equine cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The CAS is the world's highest sports court and is colloquially referred to as the Supreme Court for sports disputes.
Below, our international horse lawyers discuss handling equine cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, including the types of equine cases that can be disputed, the cost of filing an appeal, your timeline and much more.
Types of Equine Cases That Can Be Appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport
A wide range of disputes can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The most common include:
- Equine doping
- Human athlete doping
- FEI code violations, including code of conduct violations
- Eligibility for competition in the Olympics, World Championships, etc.
Cost to File an Appeal
According to our renowned horse lawyers, the party who files the appeal must pay the CAS a 1'000 Swiss franc filing fee for the appeal to be opened. An additional "advance of costs" must be paid to cover arbitrator costs and fees.
The losing party can be ordered to pay the winning party's costs. However, CAS Ad Hoc Division cases are free. The CAS Ad Hoc Division is present on-site to settle disputes at the Olympics and other international sporting events.
Location and Language Considerations
The Court of Arbitration for Sport is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, with satellite offices located in New York City and Sydney, Australia. The default location for all hearings is Lausanne. However, hearings can be held anywhere. Virtual hearings via Zoom are also an option.
There are three official languages for CAS arbitrations: English, French, and Spanish. By agreement of the parties, another language could be used.
When you file your Statement of Appeal to begin your equine case, you will need to specify your preferred location and language. If the opposing party does not consent, the CAS will make the final rulings on these preliminary issues.
General Timeline for CAS Equine Cases
Once you receive your FEI Tribunal decision, your Statement of Appeal is due within 21 days. This is a hard deadline, and you'll lose your right to an appeal if you don't file within the 21-day time-period. There is no ability to extend this time period.
According to our experienced horse lawyers, after submitting your Statement of Appeal, the appellant's brief must be submitted within 10 days. The respondent's answer is then due within 20 days. However, both sides can ask for an extension to file their submissions.
All expert reports and witness lists related to your equine case must be filed with the brief or answer unless there are exceptional circumstances such as new evidence that has just become available.
The hearing will occur before a solo arbitrator or a three-member panel, depending on the specifics of the case. There will be opening statements, followed by the presentation of witnesses and documentary evidence. During the hearing, the arbitrators and lawyers can both ask questions of the witnesses. If the witnesses are scientific experts, they can be questioned at one-time by lawyers and arbitrators in what is referred to as "hot-tubbing." In the 'hot-tub", the scientific experts can ask each other questions, which can turn the process into more of a scientific debate as opposed to the typical courtroom question and answer session.
Most CAS hearings are completed within one day, but some can take longer. In some equine cases, arbitrators will issue an operative decision—a one-page finding that indicates a reasoned explanation will follow.
All decisions are subject to publication on the CAS website. However, decisions can be kept confidential if both parties agree or if it is a first-instance case.
Our Experienced Horse Lawyers at Global Sports Advocates Are Here for You
Although you are not required to hire a lawyer to bring your case before the CAS, it is strongly recommended that you obtain legal representation. At Global Sports Advocates, our experienced and respected horse lawyers have a record of success before the CAS and extensive experience handling a variety of issues related to equine law. Contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced horse lawyers.