The Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR) Sports Arbitration Rules enter into force today, 17 March 2022. The sports rules are available in Arabic, English and French, all three versions being equally authoritative.
The objective of developing a sports arbitration practice within BCDR is to contribute to the development of sports law and arbitration in Bahrain and regionally.
The English version of the sports rules was prepared by a committee comprising former LCIA Director-General, Adrian Winstanley; BCDR Senior Case Manager, Salim Sleiman; and BCDR Case Manager, Hasan Albuainain. The Arabic version was prepared by a committee comprising Jordanian attorney, Faris K. Nesheiwat; BCDR Chief Operating Officer, Ahmed Husain; and BCDR Senior Case Manager, Salim Sleiman. The French version was prepared by Lebanese attorney, Fady Béchara, and BCDR Senior Case Manager, Salim Sleiman. The work on the sports rules in all three languages was overseen by BCDR's Chief Executive Officer, Nassib G. Ziadé, who reviewed and approved the final draft in each language before its submission to the BCDR Board for final approval.
The sports rules cater for the specific needs of sports arbitration, drawing inspiration from the specialized rules of global leaders in the field, while also being substantially based on the more general 2017 BCDR Rules of Arbitration, from which identical, or closely parallel language has been adopted as appropriate.
The Sports Arbitration Rules were posted in draft in each language on the BCDR's website, and BCDR invited feedback from sporting bodies, practitioners and other interested parties.
Given their emphasis on the resolution of sports-related disputes, the sports rules differ from the more general 2017 BCDR Rules in several respects:
The articles in the sports rules are grouped into distinct sections devoted to the key elements of the proceedings, rather than following the broadly chronological pattern of the commercial arbitration rules.
Sports Arbitration Agreement
The arbitration agreement under the sports rules may be either contractual or contained in the statutes or regulations of sporting bodies (Article 1.2).
Arbitrations under the BCDR sports rules may be a first instance resolution of a dispute. They may also be an appeal of a decision issued by a sporting body or of an award rendered by an arbitral tribunal, like most domestic and international sports federations which provide for a right to appeal of the decisions made by sporting internal bodies. The right to appeal under the sports rules is subject to an express written agreement that an appeal is allowed (Articles 1.1 and 35.5).
Appointments to be made from the BCDR Sports Arbitration Roster Exclusively
Only arbitrators listed in the BCDR-approved roster for sports arbitrators may be appointed to adjudicate disputes or hear an appeal under the sports rules (Article 12.1), thereby avoiding potentially lengthy nominations and appointment processes, and ensuring that conflict-free arbitrators with competence in sports arbitration are always appointed.
Expeditious Resolution of Disputes
The entire arbitration process under the sports rules is focused on expeditious procedures at every stage, which obviates the need for specific provisions aimed at expedited arbitration or summary determination.
As it is not uncommon for parties in sports disputes to be represented by their agents or other trusted individuals, the sports rules allow parties to be represented by "authorized" representatives who may not be lawyers (Articles 2.2(a) and (3.2(a)).
Waiver of the Right to Request Interim Measures from State Authorities
By agreeing to have recourse to arbitration under the sports rules, the parties waive the right to request any emergency measure of protection or other interim measures from any state authority or court (Article 27.1). This is in line with the requirement in the statutes and regulations of most international sporting bodies which restrict parties from having recourse to state authorities or courts. This is also a direct departure from Article 14.12 of the 2017 BCDR Rules, which is omitted altogether in the sports rules.
The sports rules fee schedule takes into account the needs of the local and regional sports market, and guarantees accessibility to BCDR sports arbitration to all claims, including smaller ones.