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Fighting relegation in Scottish football - to arbitration we must go! (Hearts & Partick Thistle v SPFL)

Scotland Football
Thursday, 09 July 2020 By Gavin Brogan

This article considers the decision (available here) of Lord Clark, who presided over the recent procedural hearing, relating to whether the Court of Session was the appropriate forum for the dispute between Heart of Midlothian Football Club & Partick Thistle v The Scottish Professional Football League[1] (SPFL) or whether the proceedings should be suspended and instead heard by an arbitral tribunal (as SPFL contend).  

The dispute itself relates to the claimants’ relegation from their respective divisions within the SPFL as a consequence of the early curtailment of the season for COVID-19. 

Specifically, the article examines:

  • Background
  • Legal proceedings
  • Was there a valid arbitration agreement?
  • Does the dispute fall within arbitration provisions?
  • Arguments against arbitration by the claimants:
    • Unfair prejudice
    • Barred as steps have been taken in the court proceedings
    • Arbitration agreement incapable of being performed
    • Public interest

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Written by

Gavin Brogan

Gavin Brogan

Gavin is a Partner, Digby Brown, one of Scotland's largest specialist litigation firms. He undertook a commercial traineeship at Dentons in Glasgow and Edinburgh before moving to his current firm where he specialises in reparation litigation.

Gavin maintains an interest in sports related legal matters and holds a Masters in International Sports Law from Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia (ISDE), in Madrid. Gavin is also a Disciplinary Panel Member of Scottish Athletics and England Boxing.

Gavin is a keen amateur footballer. During his time at Glasgow University, he played for the Glasgow University amateur football team that qualified for the professional Scottish Cup.

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