German Federal Tribunal rejects Claudia Pechstein’s claim for damages against International Skating Union (ISU)

By Christian Keidel published on 07 June 2016

In this article Christian Keidel, counsel for the International Skating Union, provides a brief summary of the decision of The German Federal Tribunal's (“BGH”) ruling on 7 June 2016 that Mrs. Claudia Pechstein’s claim for damages against the International Skating Union (“ISU”) in the amount of EUR 4.4 million is inadmissible.1 The BGH concluded that Mrs. Pechstein had signed a valid arbitration agreement in favor of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”). Therefore, the BGH concluded that German state courts have no jurisdiction to decide on her claim and lifted the decision of the previous instance, the Higher Regional Court in Munich.

The BGH panel sitting with five judges summarized its reasoning at today’s hearing in Karlsruhe as follows:

The ISU did not abuse its dominant market position when it asked Mrs. Pechstein to sign an arbitration agreement in favor of CAS as part of the participation form for the ISU World Championship in Hamar 2009. The BGH found that the CAS is a real court of arbitration according to German law despite the fact that federations have a majority position in the organization of the CAS (i.e. within the ICAS). The court rejected Pechstein’s argument that federations and athletes have adverse interests which would raise doubts regarding the independence of CAS. To the contrary, the court found that federations and athletes have parallel interests when it comes to the fight against doping.

Furthermore, the BGH concluded that the CAS Code sufficiently secures the independence of CAS panels by giving each party the possibility to nominate and challenge arbitrators and by allowing CAS awards to be challenged in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal. In addition, the BGH found that considering the circumstances in the sports environment the arbitration agreement had been signed voluntarily. Therefore, BGH also rejected the alleged violation of Article 6 European Convention on Human Rights. BGH’s full reasoning in writing is expected in two to three weeks.

BGH’s press release in German can be found here:
https://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=pm&Datum=2016&Sort=3&nr=74892&pos=0&anz=97

 

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About the Author

Christian Keidel

Christian Keidel

Christian Keidel is a salary partner at Martens Lawyers in Munich, Germany. He joined Martens Lawyers as part of the initial spin-off team from Beiten Burkhardt, an international commercial law practice. Christian holds a legal degree from the University of Munich and has also studied at the University of Seville.

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