Key points from the Review of the BHA's Disciplinary Panel, Licensing Committee and Appeal Board

Published 26 May 2017 | Authored by: Kevin Carpenter

One of the author’s recent articles for LawInSport[1] analysed and drew the lessons from the comprehensive Integrity Review[2] undertaken this year by the regulator of horseracing in Great Britain, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), of the entirety of its integrity programme for British racing.

The final section of that article discussed the relationship between Recommendation 3 of the Integrity Review (“IR3”) as regards reviewing the BHA’s disciplinary function[3], the decision of the Appeal Board[4] in the now infamous Jim Best case (which has only now just concluded[5][6]) and the BHA’s pronouncement to accelerate the implementation of IR3 as a result by 

[appointing] Christopher Quinlan QC, an independent expert in the field of sports governance and regulation, to lead the review of the structure, composition and operation of our Disciplinary Panel, Appeal Board and Licensing Committee in consultation with our sport’s stakeholders.[7]

 Less than four months after his appointment, Mr Quinlan QC’s Review of the BHA's Disciplinary Panel, Licensing Committee and Appeal Board [8] (the Review) was published in full (as promised) by the BHA.[9] Mr Quinlan QC, “sought to make practical recommendations, rather than deal in the theoretical and esoteric” [Foreword, page 3], making the Review arguably the most up-to-date analysis of the practice in this area of sports law and regulation.

This article offers an in-depth explanation and analysis of the BHA’s Review. Specifically, it looks at:

  • How the review process was conducted

  • The BHA’s current disciplinary structure

  • The role of the stewards

  • The independence of the disciplinary panel

  • The disciplinary panel’s appointment process and terms of appointment

  • The composition and size of the panels

  • Legal advice for accused participants

  • Procedural matters

  • Written decisions

  • The structure and powers of the appeal board

  • Merger of the licensing committee with the disciplinary panel

  • Conclusions and comment

Note: references to pages, chapters and/or paragraph numbers of the Review are in [square brackets] throughout.

 

The review process

Before analysing the substance of the Review, it is worth briefly touching on the process and methodology Mr Quinlan QC (and his team) took in approaching this Review.

It was clear from the Integrity Review, and reflected in the Terms of Reference for the Review (the Terms)[10], that one of the major criticisms of the current regime and structure was the lack of input from the sport’s key stakeholders, namely the jockeys and trainers. Therefore, these were the principal consultees for Mr Quinlan QC. 

Then to give the Review the upmost credibility, Mr Quinlan QC’s team also consulted with two other groups: 

  1. Other persons with direct knowledge and experience of the BHA’s processes - this included persons involved in the current disciplinary licensing structure; advocates who appear before those and bodies; BHA employees and officials;

  2. Persons with direct knowledge and experience of disciplinary procedures in other sports - this covered eight other sports and included not only analysing the procedures and processes of those sports, but also seeking assistance from them – i.e. trying to consolidate all best practice (and equally some not so good practice from the sport). [Chapter 5, paras 5 and 8]

Importantly, Mr Quinlan’s team made sure not to cherry pick consultees, in other words, he made a particular effort to meet with those people who are either publicly and/or privately critical of the BHA in particular those from the certain Chapters of the media. [Chapter 5, para 9]. 

Finally, a range of other materials were considered by Mr Quinlan’s team [Chapter 5, para 11]: 

  • previous BHA reviews;
  • BHA internal and externally published documentation;
  • visiting the Stewards (see below) at the racecourses;
  • witnessing a number of Stewards’ Enquiries; and
  • observing BHA Disciplinary Panel hearings.

 

The BHA’s current disciplinary structure

One of the key responsibilities of the BHA is to protect the integrity of the sport both on and off the racecourse. It exercises this responsibility through its Integrity Team, who are responsible for investigating alleged breaches of the Rules of Racing the first part of the Rules, the General Manual (A), contains the provisions relating to the: 

  • Disciplinary Panel;
  • Appeal Board; and
  • Licensing Committee.

Investigations carried out by the BHA Integrity Team are the second type of case which the BHA deals with. [Chapter 6, paras 6 and 8]. 

In reviewing the disciplinary structure of the BHA, Mr Quinlan QC was firmly of the opinion that it was the fairness of the procedure as a whole that must be assessed, however in doing so he had to look at each disciplinary body on an individual basis, and then if there were any issues, whether this had an effect on the fairness of the process as a whole. [Chapter 6, paras 85 and 86] 

The standard of fairness to be applied was that to be found in Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights as given force in English and Welsh law by the Human Rights Act 1998. There is a settled principle from case law whereby the High Court in the case of Graham Bradley v The Jockey Club[11] said that despite not being a public authority that article 61 did apply to such disciplinary processes as those found in the BHA’s rules.

To act lawfully in accordance with Article 6(1), the BHA and its disciplinary bodies had to:

  1. act in accordance with the sport’s own rules and regulations;
  2. act fairly, in a procedural sense and in accordance with the rules of natural justice;
  3. act non-arbitrarily; and
  4. not act unreasonably, irrationally or perversely. 

In reviewing Mr. Quinlan QC’s analysis of whether or not the BHA’s disciplinary process was fair and therefore lawful, the author will first describe the role of the Stewards’ in horseracing and then group his analysis into themes which run across one or more of the three bodies.

 

The role of the stewards 

The “Stewards” are in essence the sport’s referees. It is their responsibility it is to be at the racecourse on the day of a race meet to ensure the races are run in accordance with the Rules. [para 11] They are made up of both “professional” Stewards, called Stipendiary Stewards, and Honorary Stewards. The former are employed by the BHA, whilst the latter are not. Rather Honorary Stewards are voluntary (i.e. unpaid) but approved and trained by the BHA. At each race meet there are four Stewards in attendance in total: two Stipendiary and two Honorary.[12]

Breaches of the Rules on the day of a race are usually dealt with at what is called a “Stewards’ Enquiry”. These take place at the course immediately after the race in which the breach is alleged to have occurred. The speed at which this takes place (subject to the safeguards described briefly in the next paragraph) is, in the author’s opinion, a credit to the BHA and indeed necessary given the certainty of the results are crucial for betting, which is the primary reason the sport exists.

Three of the four Stewards sit on each Enquiry panel: one Stipendiary Steward and two Honorary Stewards (one of whom will act as the Enquiry chairman, which is positive for the credibility of the process). Once the Enquiry have made their decision by a simple majority, having seen the relevant footage and heard from any witnesses, this can be appealed by the participant to the BHA’s Disciplinary Panel. [Chapter 7, para 17] In addition, the BHA may investigate matters missed on a race day, independently of the Stewards, and referred these to the Disciplinary Panel. Equally, the Stewards may decline to take jurisdiction on the day (e.g. the complexity) and refer a matter to the Disciplinary Panel. [Chapter 7, para 18]

 

Independence of the Disciplinary Panel

Mr. Quinlan’s first step in reviewing the three bodies was to analyse whether, as was claimed in the Terms, that the current processes are “legally robust and would withstand legal challenge”. [Chapter 6, para 20]

The BHA’s Disciplinary Panel, as in most sports, is a tribunal which adjudicates on alleged breaches of the sport’s rules. The Disciplinary Panel acts as a tribunal both first instance and appeal, and is conducted in accordance with Schedule A6 of the Rules.

One of the key requirement of Article 6(1) is that the BHA’s disciplinary function is legally independent. As regards the Disciplinary Panel, this is where the first issue arose for Mr. Quinlan QC, because in the terms of reference for the Disciplinary Panel it states that, “the Chairman and Members of the Disciplinary Panel shall be guided by the [BHA] Board”. [Chapter 7, para 7] It is worth noting that there was no such provision in relation to the Appeal Board [Chapter 7, para 8], however the same wording was present as regards the Licensing Committee [Chapter 8, paras 10-12]

Despite there being no actual evidence of any interference by the BHA in the workings of the Disciplinary Panel, the aforementioned wording appeared to permit the Board unfettered right or powers to guide the Panel on policy, approach generally or even in relation to a specific case. Therefore the first Recommendation (R1) by Mr. Quinlan QC was that this sentence be removed. [Chapter 7, paras 8, 11 and 12] 

The next issue pertaining to the independence of the disciplinary function was the relationship between the Disciplinary Panel and the BHA’s corporate structure. Mr. Quinlan QC was of the opinion that the independence of the Disciplinary Panel was also compromised by the fact that the Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation (DROR), under the Rules, was ultimately responsible for selecting and appointing Stewards in general, recommending them to Disciplinary Panels, and appointing a Disciplinary Panel to conduct a particular enquiry. [Chapter 7, paras 19-21] Once again, despite the reality being that these responsibilities were delegated to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Panel, Mr Quinlan Q.C. was quite rightly of the opinion that no executive of the BHA should be involved in this process. (R2)

The BHA acted immediately upon publication of the Review to make structural changes to the executive and governance of the regulator so as, “to ensure complete separation between its regulatory, prosecution and compliance functions and its legal governance and quasi-judicial functions.[13][14] The headline changes were:

  • Bringing together responsibility for all regulatory and integrity matters (whether on a raceday or not) under the leadership of a “Chief Regulatory Officer” - position of “DROR” will cease to exist;

  • Appointing a dedicated “Director of Legal and Governance” reporting to the Chief Executive, accountable for all legal and governance matters except those relating to its prosecution and compliance functions – the “Head of Legal: Governance” role would cease to exist; and

  • Creating a new role under the Chief Regulatory Officer – “Director of Integrity and Regulatory Operations” – to take day-to-day responsibility for integrating the BHA’s raceday and integrity operations.

The BHA produced a helpful structure chart comparing the existing Executive Team structure to the new structure.[15]

Continuing on the theme of independence, Mr. Quinlan Q.C. next considered the role of the “chairman” of the Disciplinary Panel. In contrast to the Appeal Board (see below), a chairman is appointed for each enquiry[16], there is no larger role of “Panel Chairman”, and therefore they do not have the same autonomy. [Chapter 7, para 25] To address this, Mr. Quinlan QC recommended a new role which he called “the Judicial Panel Chairman”. in doing so he recommended the role carries with it the following responsibilities:

  1. Chairing enquiries, if the need arises;
  2. Selecting chairman and panel members to conduct enquiries; and
  3. Chairing the Appointments Committee (see Section F below).

[Chapter 7, para 27]

This would not be a full-time role but the individual would be remunerated by the BHA. The individual would be held accountable by the BHA Chief Executive. [Chapter 7, para 31] Importantly, from a governance perspective, Mr. Quinlan QC stressed that the creation of this new role, “drew a positive reaction from many of the consultees…no one…thought it undesirable”. [Chapter 7, para 29]

The overall effect of all of these changes, in making the Disciplinary Panel as independent and autonomous as possible, was to remove the Disciplinary Panel responsibilities from the DROR. [Chapter 7, paras 33 and 35]

Subsequent to the publication of the Review, the BHA conducted an open recruitment process for the newly recommended role of Judicial Panel Chairman, and in accordance with the skills and experience outlined by Mr. Quinlan Q.C. in Chapter 7, paragraphs 29 and 30 of the Review, announced the appointment of His Honour Brian Barker C.B.E. QC to the role.[17] The breadth of Mr. Barker QC’s role will be revealed further in this article.

 

The disciplinary panel’s appointment process 

Mr Quinlan QC’s focus now turned to the 11-person Disciplinary Panel (not the individual panels convened for particular hearings) and how the members of the collective Panel were appointed. [Chapter 7, para 40]

The first area of concern in relation to the appointment of Panel members was that there was no transparent procedure, indeed many of the consultees did not know any procedure even existed. [Chapter 7, para 41] As a result, Mr. Quinlan QC not only recommended that the procedure for appointment to the Disciplinary Panel and Licensing Committee be formalised and set out in the Rules (R6) but the appointment process should be conducted through an open competition against published criteria. (R7

In addition, the evaluation of any applications should be judged by an independent and bespoke Appointments Committee, led by, and under the stewardship of, the new Judicial Panel Chairman. (R8) This will undoubtedly further enhance the credibility of the appointment process.

These three recommendations were implemented by the BHA in February 2017 when Mr. Barker QC launched the recruitment process for new Disciplinary and Licensing Panel members and chairs.[18] The deadline for applications has now closed and they are now being considered. 

Terms of appointment

In the field of sports governance, there has been much talk in recent times about the appropriate period of time for which people should serve in a particular position or office? In the author’s opinion, Mr. Quinlan QC came to a very sensible conclusion on this point, in that rather than putting in place an arbitrary maximum period for which a Panel member could not serve past, his view was, “renewable three-year periods together with the supervision of the Judicial Panel Chairman are, in my view, sufficient.” [Chapter 7, para 69] 

In addition, the member’s letter of appointment for all three of the Disciplinary Panel, Appeal Board and Licensing Committee contained the ambiguous wording, “Notice Period: Three months”, which gave the BHA an apparent unfettered ability to terminate a member’s appointment. Therefore, for reasons of independence and security of tenure, Mr. Quinlan QC’s fifth Recommendation (R5) that a notice period could only be exercisable in the following narrow circumstances:

  • By the individual [member] to whom it relates; or

  • By the BHA where the Chairman or member (as appropriate) has:
    • Committed any serious or repeated breach or non-observance of their obligations to the BHA or of the Rules; or
    • Committed a criminal offence or acted in any manner which brings them or the BHA into disrepute.

[Chapter 7, paras 59 and 60; Chapter 8, paras 38-40; Chapter 9, paras 24-26] 

The author believes this is a pragmatic, proportionate and reasonable way to address this recent fascination with term limits.

 

The composition and size of the panels

A further area of contention was the composition of the disciplinary panels, principally because 9 of of the 11 members of the members were made up of currently serving Honorary Stewards, what Mr. Quinlan QC referred to as ‘Active Stewards’ (i.e. they work on the racecourse and are members of the Disciplinary Panel). [Section 7, para 71] 

In some senses, having such experienced individuals on the Panel, especially in race-reading, make them ideal members. However, there were legitimate concerns raised by stakeholders, in particular the Professional Jockeys’ Association (“PJA”), that the Active Stewards were in effect sitting in judgment on their peers (i.e. the decisions of friends/colleagues/associates who were also Stewards). [Section 7, paras 71 and 85]

In trying to approach balancing these contrasting views about the role of Honorary Stewards on Disciplinary Panels, Mr Quinlan QC said there was a three stage approach to be applied:

  1. Does the mere fact that they act as a racecourse Steward mean Active Stewards are debarred in law from sitting on a Disciplinary Panel?

  2. If not, then is a more nuanced approach necessary whereby the issue must be put on a case-by-case fact specific basis?

  3. Is a change in any event desirable?

[Section 7, para 103]

Having analysed the relevant case law in some detail [Section 7, paras 104-116], on balance Mr. Quinlan QC, despite there being no evidence of any actual bias in relation to any of the Active Stewards, he recommended they should no longer also sit on Disciplinary Panels (R9). This would not only improving the overall confidence in the disciplinary process, but it would also address the genuine concern that Active Stewards adjudicating upon the decisions of their peers. [Section 7, para 117]

In contrast, no issues raised by consultees as regards Stewards sitting on the Licensing Committee, for the principal reason that they do not review decisions of fellow Stewards, and so Mr. Quinlan QC was of the opinion that their knowledge of horseracing should be retained for this regulatory body. [Chapter 8, paras 28 and 29]

In analysing further the composition of the Disciplinary Panel, Mr. Quinlan QC grasped the nettle of a topic which the author has pushed but faced some not inconsiderable resistance: the appointment to panels people from a far broader range of stakeholders, which makes panels more representative of the people who are subject to the rules of a particular sport. [Section 7, paras 125 and 129]

Mr Quinlan QC opined that by allowing (and indeed encouraging) participants, such as trainers and jockeys, to apply to be part of the Panel, the BHA would generate great confidence in the Panel and the process as a whole, as well as undoubtedly adding knowledge and experience (but from a different perspective). [Section 7, para 129] (R10) The same applied equally to the Licensing Committee [Chapter 8, para 30 

The author faced objections to such a suggestion for another sports’ governing body earlier this year, and was quite frankly staggered by the attitude towards players and players in particular, but also former match officials/referees becoming involved in the disciplinary/judicial process. No good reason was given to me other than that such current or former participants were likely to be biased by knowing some of the people involved or by having been wronged by a team during their time as a player/coach. As to that point I’d just like to echo these words of Mr Quinlan QC, “Some have questioned whether sufficient former jockeys or trainers with the necessary skills would wish to sit or are even available. That is not a good reason not to try.” [Section 7, para 131]

Alongside this development to the disciplinary panel make up, Mr. Quinlan QC did see merit in more legally qualified people being appointed to the Panel, particular to chair the enquiries. [Section 7, para 140] (R11 & R12)

 

Legal advice for accused participants 

An issue which is often discussed in relation to sports disciplinary and arbitration, if the inequality of arms between the regulator and the participant as regards legal fees. This is something to which the author is sympathetic to. This is also exacerbated in the current BHA disciplinary structure as under the Rules costs cannot be awarded by the Disciplinary Panel where an accused participant is acquitted of a charge. [Chapter 7, para 181]

Further to a supplementary recommendation of the 2016 Integrity Review, the BHA had already taken steps to find a solution to this complaint by entering into discussions with the UK’s specialist sports dispute resolution service Sport Resolutions. Mr. Quinlan QC urged the BHA to progress this dialogue by introducing the relevant stakeholders to Sport Resolutions and establishing formal partnerships to offer access to pro bono from that of those who can generally not afford to have legal representation during the discovery process. (R16)

 

Procedural matters

There were a number of procedural matters with the disciplinary process Mr Quinlan QC addressed as there was no formal set of procedural rules dealing with case management, including disclosure, the lack of which by the BHA being of significant concern to a number of consultees. [Chapter 7, paras 185 and 188]

This issue had also been dealt with in the Integrity Review in IR4(b)[19], which had recommended “a formal code of conduct for case management and disciplinary inquiries”. This was endorsed and expanded upon by Mr. Quinlan QC in his 17th Recommendation (R17), when he said there should be specific rules on disclosure within the procedural rules. [Chapter 7, paras 190, 191 and 194] 

Two separate suggestions were made to Mr. Quinlan QC during the course of his interviews to make the process more efficient/nuanced which he dealt with as follows:

  1. Twin track” system - on one track would be the appeals to the Disciplinary Panel from a Steward’s Enquiry, or referrals from the Stewards’ themselves – on the other track would be enquiries which originate before the Disciplinary Panel (e.g. allegations of corruption) – the first of those would have a less “formal” systems (i.e. lighter procedural and disclosure rules) – Mr Quinlan QC was not persuaded this was necessary for reasons of inflexibility and bureaucracy [Chapter 7, paras 142-145]

  2. Fast tracking” – under the current Rules whether or not the breach was admitted by the alleged infringer of the Rules, and whether they were to turn up at the Disciplinary Panel hearing, a hearing goes ahead regardless – this is clearly unsatisfactory and not necessary – therefore Mr. Quinlan QC recommended that an alternative disposal of matters be established which would include a “fast track” for minor or admitted offences, formal cautions, agreed sanctions and where matters are resolved by consent. [Chapter 7, paras 195-198]

 

Written decisions

During my career as a match official, particularly when acting as an assistant referee (linesman) in football, I was told during a training event that the most important and brave decisions you make in relation to offside is when not to raise the flag, rather than when you do. I could see analogies with this situation in the complaints made by, in particular the jockeys, in relation to the amount of detail (or lack of) in written decisions of the Disciplinary Panel, particularly where it was decided not to take any disciplinary action. In the author’s opinion Mr. Quinlan QC right to take the approach that he should leave the quality of the written decisions within the responsibility of the Judicial Panel Chairman but did recommend that Schedule (A)6 of the Rules should include a requirement to explain why disciplinary action has not been taken. (R13)

 

The structure and powers of the appeal board

Following his consultations, Mr. Quinlan QC and his team noted there was widespread satisfaction with the BHA’s Appeal Board, and in fact went as far as to say that, with one or two minor alterations, it was, “a model of a modern independent disciplinary tribunal” [Chapter 9, para 2], for the following (non-exhaustive) reasons:

  • Members of the independent Chairman’s Panel are appointed for a fixed period, cannot be dismissed by the BHA at will, and therefore have security of tenure [Chapter 9, paras 8-18];
  • The independent Chairman cannot, in effect, be outvoted as decisions are determined on a majority of two, one of which must be the Chairman [Chapter 9, para 19];
  • No current member of the Disciplinary Panel is permitted to sit on the Appeal Board; and
  • The Appeal Board is completely separate from both the Integrity, Legal and Risk and the Raceday Operations and Regulation Department of the BHA.

[Chapter 9, para 28] 

An important jurisdictional matter which arises in relation to any sporting appeals process is the scope of appeal and the powers the particular appeal body has. The BHA Appeal Board was essentially a board of review, and not a fact-finding body (other than in exceptional circumstances allowing new evidence to be submitted). Yet, although the Appeal Board cannot hear an appealed case afresh, what they do have are extensive powers in relation to their finding based on the original evidence (i.e. in allowing or dismissing an appeal) including to: remit the matter for a rehearing, order forfeiture or return of a deposit, or increase or decrease a disciplinary sanction. [Chapter 9, paras 39-43]

However, having heard arguments from consultees that the Appeal Board should be able to conduct re-hearings upon receiving an appeal from a decision of the Disciplinary Panel or Licensing Committee, Mr. Quinlan QC came to what the author considers to be a pragmatic conclusion, “My own view is simply this to enable the Appeal Board to hear cases by way of a rehearing in exceptional circumstances would lance at a stroke any suggestion (if it were ever made) that the Appeal Board’s current powers of review are insufficient.” [Chapter 9, para 53] (R22)

Bearing in mind the supervisory jurisdiction of the England and Wales High Court, Mr. Quinlan QC’s view was that, notwithstanding the numerous Recommendations he makes throughout the Review, the BHA’s current disciplinary system was “fair” both at common law and for the purposes of Article 6(1). [Chapter 9, para 44]

 

Merger of the licensing committee with the disciplinary panel

A key element of the BHA’s regulatory mandate is to safeguard the integrity and reputation sport by licensing those who perform specific functions within it. The criteria that must be met by any applicant for a license includes an assessment of their competence, capability and general suitability. It is one of the BHA’s executive functions and is carried out by the BHA’s Licensing Team. [Chapter 8, paras 2 and 3] As a result, few applications for a licence, permit or registration ever reach the Licensing Committee. [Chapter 8, paras 6-9

In 2014, a BHA review group proposed that the Licensing Committee be merged the Disciplinary Panel. This would provide a new combined pool of members (who could sit on either or both types of hearing, leading to hopefully greater consistency), with the same administrative support, training and review meeting structure. [Chapter 8, paras 17 and 19]

In principle Mr Quinlan QC believed this was a positive development, however there would have to be certain safeguards in place:

  • Appropriate risk controls (i.e. Chinese walls) between any on-going simultaneous licensing and disciplinary cases in respect of any particular applicant/participant;

  • Ensure that no person sat on a Committee hearing if they had inside knowledge of the individual in question; and

  • Overall, any conflicts of interest (a hot topic in sports governance) for individual panel members would have to be declared on a case-by-case basis.

[Chapter 8, para 18]

Returning briefly to the issue of independence, and whether the proposed merger would conflict with the new independent judicial panel structure, going forward the BHA Executive would determine all licensing applications in the first instance, with the Appeal Board only coming into effect should there be an appeal. As a result, this would keep licensing primarily the responsibility of the BHA (as regulator), whilst retaining the ability for licensing decisions to be reviewed by an independent panel in limited and appropriate circumstances. [Chapter 8, paras 22-24]

Having considered these high priority issues about the proposed merger, Mr. Quinlan QC recommended this be actioned to form a single disciplinary group, under the leadership of the new Judicial Panel Chair. (R19) Indeed as an appendix to the Review, Mr. Quinlan QC helpfully provided a diagram of what the new proposed disciplinary structure would look like should his recommendations be adopted.[20]

 

Conclusions and comment

Despite the significant amount of critical media coverage, and negative reaction from the sport’s stakeholders, to the disciplinary functions of the BHA, particularly in the past 12 months, following his review, Mr. Quinlan QC did not believe that the system was “in crisis” and indeed overall was legally fair. [Chapter 11, para 3] However, he was in no doubt as to the fact that the substantive issues with the current system lay with the Disciplinary Panel, and indeed this was the body to which the majority of his Recommendations were directed.[21] [Chapter 11, para 4]

In expressing his desire for the BHA to implement his 24 Recommendations [Chapter 4, pages 15-19] he concluded, “They are intended to enhance, and to generate greater confidence in, the disciplinary process. I hope the BHA agrees with them. I hope also that it concludes, as have I, that these recommendations will provide a modern disciplinary system which consistently delivers, is seen and is accepted to deliver, justice to all.” [Chapter 11, para 5] 

A combination of the organisational changes already in put in motion last year by the new BHA Chief Executive, the Integrity Review, the Jim Best series of hearings and the Review of the Disciplinary and Licensing functions of the BHA, exhibit perfectly the multi-faceted challenging landscape that faces sport governing bodies and organisations in the 21st century in an era of heightened awareness and interest for the sector as a whole. 

The author has indeed been impressed by the BHA’s willingness to be rigorous in both their internal analysis and by opening themselves up to specialist independent scrutiny. In addition, they are to be commended by publishing the reports and details of reforms to all stakeholders. Some may be of the opinion that engaging a broader range of stakeholders in the governance of the sport is overdue, and this is not unfair, however the author can say from his own experience that should the structural and regulatory reforms be implemented appropriately, then the BHA will be one of the most advanced, transparent, collaborative and well-equipped governing bodies to deal with the many and varied risks it faces on a daily basis, ranging from betting corruption[22] and participant welfare[23], all the way through to racehorse ownership[24] and equine doping[25]

From a mainly UK perspective, the author hopes this serves as a lesson for other governing bodies and sports organisations to be far more representative of their members and stakeholders, as this will lead to far greater trust across the sector as a whole at a time when it is under attack due to historic and continuing failings in areas including participant welfare, safeguarding, poor governance and opaque decision-making and disciplinary processes.

 

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About the Author

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor. In his day-to-day work he has two roles: as the Principal for his own consultancy business Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, and Special Counsel for Sports Integrity at leading global sports technology and data company Genius Sports.

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