Concussion in sport - How employers’ duties compare in the U.K., Ireland & North America

Published 17 July 2017 By: Jack Anderson, Jon Heshka

Rugby tackle in the air

This article examines how player concussions are currently being dealt with by sports and the status of concussion-related litigation. The first half, by Prof. Jack Anderson, looks at the situation in the U.K and Ireland, focusing principally on football and Rugby Union. The second half (by Associate Dean Jon Hehska) gives a comparative perspective from the U.S. and Canada, looking at situation in the National Football League, the Canadian Football League, the National Hockey League and the NCAA. The authors conclude by offering their thoughts on whether we may soon see the “U.S. style” litigation of class action lawsuits closer to home. 

Specifically, this article examines:

  • An introduction to concussion issues in 2016/17

  • Rugby Union and concussion
    • The Cillian Willis case
    • The Jamie Cudmore case

  • Summary of key developments in U.K. and Ireland

  • Concussion litigation in the United States and Canada
    • National Football League
    • Canadian Football League
    • National Hockey League
    • National Collegiate Athletic Association

  • Conclusions: will we see U.S.-style concussion litigation in the U.K.?



On 31 May 2016, the Daily Telegraph in London launched a campaign to tackle what it called “football’s secret shame – dementia”. The campaign called for the Football Association in England to commission independent research to answer the question, “Does playing football increase your risk of dementia and other degenerative brain diseases?” and “to work collaboratively to help researchers study a large sample of former professional players and compare their findings to the wider population.”[1]

2016 was the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup victory and the experiences of the eight surviving outfield players from that England team seemed to act as a catalyst for the campaign, as supported even by rival newspapersRay Wilson, Martin Peters and Nobby Stiles were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in their sixties while Jack Charlton appears to struggling with memory loss in the last decade or so.

The campaign is of interest for three reasons – its retrospective element; its contemporary interest; and how it encapsulates many of the medical, regulatory and legal issues relating to concussion in contact sport, otherwise discussed principally in terms of rugby union and American football. On the first point, it is noteworthy that fifteen years ago the family of Jeff Astle (as have the family members of the 1966 winning team) were promised that The FA would divert funding into research as to “whether or not the act of repeatedly heading a water soaked leather ball in the 1960s and 1970s might have caused neurological failure.”[2] Astle played professional football for West Bromwich Albion from 1964-1974.  He died, aged 59, in 2002. At a subsequently coronial inquest, the coroner, said that repeated contact with the heavy leather ball used in the 1960s caused trauma similar to that of a boxer and labelled the matter an “industrial disease.[3]

At one level, the impact of the Astle coronial pronouncement could be deemed limited in the sense that the primary causal factor – the old, heavily stitched leather footballs – have long been replaced by lighter footballs;[4] nevertheless very recent medical research published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology – involving a relatively large control group of 222 adult amateur players, suggests that repeated heading of a football is a cause of concussion.[5] This medical underpinning of a causal connection between an elemental part of a sporting activity (such as heading in football) and measurable, chronic brain trauma (as suffered by Jeff Astle) remains the key concern and, concomitantly, the key area of vulnerability in terms of legal liability, for all sports bodies involved in contact sports and not just The FA.

It follows that in discharging its duty of care to ensure that the game of football is played safely, The FA ought, in the author’s view, to make good their promises on underwriting further medical research and including: better injury surveillance; preventative measures to make the game safer;[6] on-field head injury assessment protocols; rehabilitation and recovery protocols; and, most importantly, so that the future players of the games (and their parents) can make an informed decision as to the sport of choice.[7]  

Obfuscation on any of the above might lead to potential legal liability, as has been shown in the case of various American sports, discussed below, and as will now be examined by way of a review of rugby union’s experience on this matter in 2016.[8]  


Rugby Union and concussion: A game changer

In the first week of 2017, World Rugby, the global governing body for the sport of rugby union, announced two new directives on dangerous tackling offences, sanctioning reckless and accidental head contact. The initiative was, according to World Rugby, as a result of what it calls an evidence based approach to player welfare.[9]

As part of this evidence based approach, World Rugby continuously commissions injury surveillance studies to be carried out at all of its international competitions so that the results can inform its player welfare initiatives, including rule changes. The most recently published surveillance study was at the 2015 World Cup.[10] Concussion (at 13.9%) was the most common match injury. Tackling (21.2%) or being tackled (24.7%) were the most common sources of match injury. These results, which were consistent with previous surveys, and including those carried out by national rugby federations,[11] duly fed into World Rugby’s zero tolerance approach to head contact.  

Nevertheless, the above presents an overly neat narrative of the background to the introduction of the new head contact rules and there is no doubt that an apprehension about player-led litigation was also a factor. Indeed, two examples occurred in 2016 when professional rugby players, Cillian Willis[12] and Jamie Cudmore,[13] announced that there were suing their former clubs for alleged clinical negligence claiming that their employers negligently exposed them to further injury by permitting them to play on post-concussion.

Cillian Willis

In August 2016, various newspapers reported on what they called “the first case of a professional rugby player taking his employers to court due to concussion” when Cillian Willis was reported to have initiated civil proceedings for clinical negligence against Sale Sharks of the English Premiership.[14] The essence of the proceedings appears to be Willis’ allegation that the club and two doctors negligently assessed two head injuries he sustained while playing against Saracens in an LV cup game on 10 March 2013. During that game, Willis, on receiving what appears to have been high tackle in the first half, was treated on the pitch by club doctors. They deemed him fit to play on. He claims that he was concussed. In any event, early in the second half, Willis received another knock to the head. He was again treated and again permitted to play on but was eventually replaced after 47 minutes of the game.

Four factors are of interest in the Willis proceedings.

Jamie Cudmore

Jamie Cudmore played for his then employer, Clermont Auvergne, in the semi-final of the 2015 (European rugby) Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens. During the game, he clashed heads accidentally with an opponent, Billy Vunipola.  Cudmore was removed from the field and underwent the mandatory “head injury assessment” or HIA (World Rugby’s concussion) protocol.[18]

Cudmore claims that he failed the HIA and thus should not have been permitted to return to the field of play.[19] He further claims that just as he was about to get changed out of his playing gear, he was asked, principally because his second row partner had been injured, to return to the field of play, which he did.  As reported in the media, Cudmore, who has since announced his intention to sue Clermont for negligence, is of the view that:

Clermont’s doctors should have known better. But, apparently caught up in the moment and with lines blurred between patient, player, employer and team, allowed him to return before permitting him to play in the final at Twickenham two weeks later….[20]

Again, there are four points of interest to be drawn from the Cudmore incident.

Cudmore finished the game [the Champions Cup Final] but after blacking out in training the following week he was mercifully, belatedly, stood down. It took him three months to recover — the first few weeks spent largely in a darkened room as he battled post-concussion symptoms including mood swings, sensitivity to light, lethargy and nausea.[23]

Again, this poses questions for professional rugby as to employees’ health and safety and the nature of the work place in which such players operate, as well as the nature of their rehabilitation and recovery process and the chronic or cumulative impact of such injuries.[24]

no video footage exists from within the Twickenham changing room while a formal complaint made to European Professional Club Rugby, the organisers of the Champions Cup, drew a response from director general Vincent Gaillard pointing out the HIA was a World Rugby trial and therefore not under his body’s jurisdiction.[26]

No sanctions were applied against Northampton though the review group did make a number of suggestions relating to medical personnel’s duty to review video footage of concussive incidents, and noting that “irrespective of whether part of the HIA assessment has or has not been carried out on the pitch, the entire HIA must be completed again once in the medical room by the examining doctor” and that no HIA should “be unduly shortened without clear reason.”[30]

In the aftermath of this report, and in the context of possible clinical negligence, the demands on club medical doctors are now quite onerous as exacerbated by the fact that, as some critics have highlighted, the key issue in not so much compliance by rugby doctors with the extant HIA protocol but whether such protocols are fit for purpose in the first place.[31] Put simply, how does a club doctor align the Bolam (case law[32]) derived notion of acting in accordance with a respectable body of medical opinion, with a situation whereby it is admitted that “advances in the practical, immediate management of concussion have been constrained by a lack of progress in the development of an accepted operational definition of concussion that can be used to identify concussed athletes during match play.”[33]

To be fair, World Rugby has fully acknowledged the need for an operational definition of concussion,[34] though its definition does not as of yet seem to have received the imprimatur of international experts in the area.[35]



Litigation such as the Willis and Cudmore not only places a spotlight on medical negligence in the context of World Rugby’s concussion protocols but also other, preventative means of mitigating playing risks in the sport and reducing insurance costs.  The most obvious of these is the directives on high tackles[36] implemented at the beginning of 2017.[37] In this, both codes of rugby have a history of player-led litigation leading to regulatory change.  

In the 1990s, rugby faced a number of claims,[38]  principally in Australia, relating to the safety of its then scrum laws. The litigation, taken by players rendered paraplegic in collapsed scrums, claimed that the rugby authorities had failed in their duty of care to update and ensure the consistency of scrum safety laws. Echoes of that litigation can still be heard in the “Crouch-Bind-Set” commands of today’s rugby union referees and in rule changes relating to uncontested scrums when no suitably trained replaced front row is available.[39] Similarly, in a 2005 case from Australian rugby league, a player, Jarrod McCracken, successfully sued two opponents and their club for neck injuries resulting from a spear or tip tackle.[40] Spear tackles were subsequently outlawed[41] by World Rugby, as seen most famously in the red card awarded by Alain Rolland to Wales’s Sam Warburton in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.[42]

More recently still, World Rugby will also have been aware of the litigation begun this year, again against the rugby league authorities in Australian (NRL), by a player, Alex McKinnon,[43] paralysed in a so-called “lifting” tackle in a 2014 game.[44] As McKinnon’s medical care costs rise, compensation is being sought in the courts and as part of the proceedings scrutiny has fallen upon the NRL’s allegedly negligent regulation of such tackles. The McKinnon case has interesting legal, insurance and medical repercussions for both rugby codes and is one to be watched into 2017, as are continuing developments in North America.[45]


Concussion litigation in the United States and Canada

Things are no less – and are arguably more – injurious and litigious on the other side of the pond. The landscape in sports generally and in American football and ice hockey specifically has forever been changed by the heightened awareness of brain injuries and its concomitant seemingly tidal wave of litigation.

National Football League

The table was essentially set in 2016 by the National Football League (NFL) when it settled its class action lawsuit[46]. After a contentious and complicated battle between the league and more than 20,000 retired players, which wound its way through the courts culminating in the US Court of Appeals rejecting an appeal by the players and the US Supreme Court denying a request to review the settlement,[47] a settlement approximating $1 billion was approved by Judge Anita B. Brody of the US District Court.[48]

Canadian Football League

The Canadian Football League (CFL) – Canada’s version of the NFL – has also been ensnarled in concussion litigation. On 11 March 2016, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Bruce v. Cohon,[49] found in favour of the CFL and that the claims relating to Bruce’s concussions could only be resolved through the grievance and arbitration process contained within the league’s collective bargaining agreement. A separate $200 million suit filed with the Ontario Superior Court in 2015 has not yet been heard.[50]

Jeffrey Orridge, the Commissioner of the CFL, took a different tack in 2016 in denying the linkage between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He said the following at his annual state-of-the-league address:

Last I heard, it’s still a subject of debate in the medical and scientific community. The league’s position is there’s no conclusive evidence at this point.[51]

This unusual declaration put him and the league at odds with the NFL with its nearly $1 billion class action settlement and whose top health and safety officer acknowledged the link between football-related head trauma and CTE in a game-changing admission before a congressional committee. Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, was asked if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases such as CTE has been established, to which Miller responded: "The answer to that question is certainly yes."[52]

National Hockey League

The approach of the National Hockey League (NHL) in the face of concussion litigation is more like that of the CFL and less the NFL.

In May 2016, US federal court Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied the NHL’s motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint based on labour law preemption.[53] Judge Nelson also unsealed e-mails and other documentation relating to its own pending class action lawsuit. In response to an article the author wrote in 2011,[54] the owner of the NHL team Montreal Canadiens e-mailed Gary Bettman, the Commissioner of the NHL, expressing concern about the league’s and team’s exposure to liability. Commissioner Bettman responded saying that he does “not believe the nfl [sic] lawsuits should ‘put us at risk.’”[55]

Two years later in 2013, the first of five proposed concussion injury class action cases was filed against the NHL, the case information stating:

The plaintiffs generally allege that the NHL failed to warn its players of the short and long-term effects of repeated concussions and head trauma, failed to adequately care for its players after they received such injuries, and promoted and glorified unreasonable and unnecessary violence leading to head trauma.  Plaintiffs allege these actions and inactions by the NHL resulted in players suffering from, or increased the risk of contracting, serious brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s, and accelerated the speed and severity of players’ post-retirement mental decline.[56]

The cases were consolidated a year later and transferred to the District of Minnesota.

The NHL has shown no inclination to settle and is instead fighting the case both in the courts and in the legislature. In a letter to Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wrote:

"The confusion in the press about CTE — no doubt further fuelled by plaintiffs' counsel in the NHL litigation — relates to the simple and incontrovertible fact that none of the brain studies conducted to date can, as a matter of accepted scientific methodology, prove anything about causation, a primary subject of your letter."[57]

The NHL has filed Bettman's 24-page letter to Senator Blumenthal with Judge Nelson.

The latest approach of the NHL has seemingly torn a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco by not only denying the link between hockey and CTE but by attempting to discredit those medical researchers who make such claims. The NHL sent a far-reaching subpoena to Boston University in September 2015 asking the university, whose CTE Centre has examined the brains of more than 200 athletes, to disclose any relevant documents related to the issue at hand. Boston University refused the NHL’s request. [58] The NHL turned up the heat in January 2017 by filing documents in court asking Boston University to hand over research materials and unpublished data so it can “probe the scientific basis for published conclusions” and “confirm the accuracy of published findings.”

It is fair to say at this point that the gulf between the claimants and the NHL is vast and that a settlement is not immediately in the offing.

National Collegiate Athletic Association

The waves of concussion litigation are also lapping at the shores of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the non-profit association that regulates athletes of about 1,300 institutions, conferences and organizations and generates nearly $1 billion in revenue.[59]

A $75 million settlement was agreed to by the NCAA in July 2016 that establishes a 50 year medical monitoring program for all current and former NCAA athletes, a class which totals several million people.[60] This however has not served to stop the tsunami of concussion lawsuits as the NCAA was facing an additional 43 lawsuits as of October 2016.[61] 



In the immediate future, a US-style, NFL class action is unlikely to be replicated against World Rugby. In fact, given the recent filing of a federal court memorandum of law in support of a $112.5 million bill for their work on the NFL concussion settlement, it could be argued that the NFL settlement reflects tort reformists criticism of such actions as both benefitting lawyers at the expense of claimants and a means of forcing defendants into settlements.

In the UK, where such collective redress actions are more properly and restrictively described as Group Litigation Orders, it is usual that such orders proceed as based on representative test cases selected from the group of legal claims raising the similar issue.[62] In this, the Willis and Cudmore proceedings outlined above might, however, informally but no less effectively be viewed as selected test cases for rugby’s future, and possibly much wider, legal vulnerability to concussion-related, negligence claims.


[1] J Wilson, “George Cohen: English football needs to act on dementia” The Daily Telegraph (London) 31 May 2016, available at

[2] I Herbert, “15 years on from Jeff Astle's death, why are his family still waiting for head injury research?”, The Independent (London), 18 January 2017, available at

[3] N Britten, “Jeff Astle killed by heading ball, coroner rules” The Daily Telegraph (London) 12 November 2002, available at

[4] Medical opinion is divided on this point; see the summary by M Lee, “Jeff Astle: Head injury footballer's case tip of the iceberg?” BBC News Online 3 April 2014, available at

[5] See also I Herbert, “Repeated heading of a football can cause concussion, new study shows” The Independent (London) 1 February 2017, available at

[6] ‘Football in the dock amid confusion over FA's promise of a 10-year study on link between football and dementia’,,, 22 Marc 2014, last accessed 27 March 2016,

[7] It must be noted that the treatment given to Hull midfielder Ryan Mason who suffered a fractured skull during a Premier League game against Chelsea on 22 January 2017 was roundly praised and including by brain injury charity Headway, see

[8] See generally Jack Anderson, “Shadow of player-led litigation hastens latest rule changes” The Irish Times 6 January 2017, available at, as informed by T Meakin, “The Evolving Legal Issues on Rugby Neuro-trauma” (2013) 21 (3) Sport & the Law Journal 34-42.

[9] For a summary of World Rugby’s approach to the issue of concussion management, and including the above rule amendments, see

[10] C Fuller et al, “Rugby World Cup 2015: World Rugby injury surveillance study” (2017) 51 British Journal of Sports Medicine 51-57 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096275.

[11] In England, the Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project (PRISP) report for the 2015-16 season was published in January 2017. It monitors the injury risk of Premiership Rugby players in Premiership Rugby, European and national competition as well as training and has done so for the last 13 seasons. A key finding from the 2015-16 season was that concussion was, for the fifth consecutive season, the most commonly reported Premiership Rugby match injury constituting appropriately 25% of all match injuries. In addition, concussion now comprises 20% of all injuries to the ball carrier and 47% of all injuries to the tackler see fully

[12] ‘Cillian Willis to sue Sale Sharks over concussion which ended his career,’, 23 Aug 2016, last accessed 27 March 2017,

[13] ‘Rugby star Jamie Cudmore pushes to take concussion safety protocols global’,, 29 December 2016, last accessed 27 March 2017,

[14] G Cummiskey, “Cillian Willis to sue Sale Sharks over concussion” The Irish Times 23 August 2016, available at

[15] For a discussion of the measure of future loss in the context of a career ending tackle on a professional sportsperson, see Collett v Smith [2009] EWCA Civ 583 (liability for injury admitted by opposing club) and see also its application in XYZ v Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust [2011] EWHC 243 (QB) (a case of clinical negligence in which liability had been admitted).

[16] For an interesting discussion of causation in the context of concussion-related negligence claims in sport, see R Bunworth, “Egg-shell skulls or institutional negligence? The liability of World Rugby for incidents of concussion suffered by professional players in England and Ireland” (2016) 16 (1/2) International Sports Law Journal 82-98.

[17] For an analogy on vicarious liability see Hamed v Mills and Tottenham Hotspur [2015] EWHC 298 and 387 (QB) (clinical negligence in the context of the cardiac screening of a player). On employer liability more generally, see J Kirby “Employers’ Liability and Concussive Injury in Professional Rugby Union: The application of Health and Safety Legislation to concussive injury in professional Rugby Union in the UK and Ireland.” (2015) 13 (2) The Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, Online, DOI:

[18] ‘World Rugby Concussion Management’,, (last accessed 24 Feb 2017)

[19] ‘Doctor twice sent Jamie Cudmore back onto the pitch after blows to the head’,, last accessed 27 March 2016,

[20] S Peters, “Doctors twice sent Jamie Cudmore back on to the pitch after serious blows to the head... Now he and wife Jen are fighting for justice” The Mail on Sunday 25 September 2016, available at

[21] See M Cross et al, “Professional rugby union players have a 60% greater risk of time loss injury after concussion: a 2-season prospective study of clinical outcomes.” (2016) 50 (15) British Journal of Sports Medicine 926-931.

[22] See J Watterson and G Cummiskey, “Parents of rugby player Benjamin Robinson issue legal proceedings” The Irish Times 28 October 2016, and available at

[23] S Peters, “Doctors twice sent Jamie Cudmore back on to the pitch after serious blows to the head... Now he and wife Jen are fighting for justice” The Mail on Sunday 25 September 2016, available at

[24] G Cummiskey and J Watterson, “Concussion dangers not being taken seriously” The Irish Times 29 October 2016, and available at

[25] Cudmore has established the Rugby Safety Network (RSN) - a non- profit foundation to bring awareness to the severity of concussions, and to provide financial support to players suffering from consequences of continuous concussions – and which can be contacted at

[26] S Peters, “Doctors twice sent Jamie Cudmore back on to the pitch after serious blows to the head... Now he and wife Jen are fighting for justice” The Mail on Sunday 25 September 2016, available at

[27] ‘George North concussion was stressful - Becky James’,, 21 Aug 2015, last accessed 24 Feb 2017,

[28] Paul Bolton, ‘George North allowed to continue playing for Northampton against Leicester after suffering yet another head injury,’, 3 December 2016, last viewed 24 Feb 2017,

[29] The full report can be accessed at (last accessed 24 Feb 2017)

[30] Ibid at pp3-4.

[31] Critics of the HIA process, such as former World Rugby medical doctor, Dr Barry O’Driscoll, have argued that the HIA process is being used as an excuse to return or keep players to the pitch – in contrast, in the amateur game a suspected concussion leads to an unequivocal and definitive removal from the game. In response, the RFU’s head of medicine has defended the HIA process, stating that 98.5% of concussions and suspected concussions were treated correctly last season, though there has been an acknowledgement of the need to use independent doctors to assess players who have suffered a head injury, see C Jones, “Rugby concussions: RFU head of medicine defends HIA process” BBC Sport Online 18 January 2017,

[32]  Bolam v Friern Barnet Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 WLR 582, 587, the question being: “whether the defendants, in acting in the way they did, were acting in accordance with a practice of competent respected professional opinion …. in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art..”

[33] See C Fuller et al “Evaluation of World Rugby’s concussion management process: results from Rugby World Cup 2015” (2017) 51(1) British Journal of Sports Medicine 64-69 at 64.

[34] M Rafery et al, “Editorial: It is time to give concussion an operational definition: a 3-step process to diagnose (or rule out) concussion within 48 h of injury: World Rugby guideline (2016) 50 British Journal of Sports Medicine 642-643.

[35] see G Cummiskey, “[Berlin International Consensus] Conference on concussion fails to give HIA its imprimatur” The Irish Times 24 January 2017,

[36] ‘New measures to limit contact with the head announced’,, 14 December 2016, last accessed 24 Feb 2017,

[37] On the insurance issue see J Watterson, “IRFU confirms insurance premiums beginning to soar

Union decline to says whether concussion is reason for hike in costs” The Irish Times 19 October 2016, available at and Johnny Watterson “IRFU will likely face legal action over concussion, says agent”, The Irish Times 21 October 2016, available at

[38] Agar v Hyde; Agar v Worsley (2000) 201 CLR 552; Haylen v NSW Rugby Union Ltd [2002] NSWSC 114; Green v CRFL of NSW [2008] NSWSC 26.

[39] Smoldon v Whitworth [1997] PIQR P133; Vowles [2003] 1 WLR 1607.

[40] McCracken v Melbourne Storm Rugby League Football Club & Ors [2005] NSWSC 107; [2006] NSWSC 1250; [2007] NSWCA 353

[41] World Rugby Laws (2017), Law 10.4 - Dangerous Play and Misconduct. (j); Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.

[42] Mark Reason,  ‘Rugby World Cup 2011: Sam Warburton red card harsh but what choice did referee Alain Rolland have?’,, 15 Oct 2011, last viewed 24 Feb 2017,

[43] ‘Alex McKinnon gets backing from players union over intention to sue NRL,’, 19 Dec 2016, last viewed 24 Feb 2017,

[44] ‘No other recourse but to sue? The implications of Alex McKinnon’s lawsuit against the NRL’,, 21 Dec 2016, last viewed 24 Feb 2017,

[45] See J Marcuson, “Alex McKinnon sues NRL after tackle left him paralysed” Sydney Morning Herald 21 December 2016 available at

[46] Re: National Football League Players Concussion Injury Litigation, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, April 18, 2016. The court held that the objectors “risk making the perfect the enemy of the good” [and that] though the settlement is not perfect, it is fair.

[47] K Belson, “N.F.L. Concussion Settlement Payments Can Begin After Supreme Court Defers” The New York Times 12 December 2016, and available at

[48] See footnote 41

[49] Bruce v. Cohon, 2016 BCSC 419, available to view here: (last accessed 24 June 2017)

[50] ‘Former players file $200M lawsuit against CFL’,, Jun 5, 2015, last accessed 27 March 2017,

[51] B Blum, “CFL commissioner refuses to admit link between football and CTE” CBC 25 November 2016, and available at

[52] S Fainaru, “NFL acknowledges, for the first time, link between football, brain disease” ESPN 15 May 2016, and available at

[53] Re: National Hockey League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 14-2551 (SRN/JSM) United States District Court District of Minnesota, May 18, 2016.

[54] J Heshka, “A (head) shot across the NHL’s bow?” The Globe and Mail 2 August 2011, and available at

[55] E-mail correspondence between Gary Bettman and Geoff Molson, 3 August 2011, and available at

[56] Case Information. Available at

[57] ‘N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman Continues to Deny C.T.E. Link’,, 26 July 2016, last viewed 27 March 2017,

[58] R Westhead, “Boston University refuses NHL request for CTE research records” TSN 20 January 2017, and available at

[59] National Collegiate Athletic Association and Subsidiaries – Consolidated Financial Statements as of and for the Years Ended August 31, 2015 and 2014, Supplemental Information for the Year Ended August 31, 2015, and Independent Auditors’ Report, available at The precise figure for total revenues in 2015 is $912,348,892.

[60] R Axon, “NCAA has settlement agreement in concussion lawsuit” USA Today 29 July 2016, and available at

[61] Associated Press, “NCAA facing 43 concussion lawsuits after latest filings” The Denver Post 5 October 2016, and available at

[62] See the examples at: ‘Group Litigation Orders’,, (last accessed 27 March 2016)

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Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. The sports law program at Melbourne was one of the first to be established globally in the mid-1980 and continues to expand at the Melbourne Law School, which itself is ranked in the top 10 law schools globally.

Jack has published widely in the area including monographs such as The Legality of Boxing (Routledge 2007) and Modern Sports Law (Hart 2010) and edited collections such as Landmark Cases in Sports Law (Asser 2013) and EU Sports Law (Edward Elgar 2018 with R Parrish and B Garcia). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal based at the International Sports Law Centre at the Asser Institute from 2013 to 2016. 

Appointed as an arbitrator to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2016,  he became a member of the inaugural International Amateur Athletics Federation’s Disciplinary Tribunal and the International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit in 2017. In 2018, he was the sole CAS arbitrator at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. In 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission. He is currently chair of the Advisory Group establishing a National Sports Tribunal for Australia

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Jon Heshka

Jon Heshka

Jon Heshka served as Associate Dean of Law from 2013 to 2017. Since arriving at TRU in 2002, Jon played an active role in university governance having served as, amongst other positions, vice-chair of Senate and chair of the Educational Planning Committee of Senate.