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Pandemic Stops Play – Will Australia Be Caught Out By Its Decision To Withdraw From 2021 Tour To South Africa?

Pandemic Stops Play – Will Australia Be Caught Out By Its Decision To Withdraw From 2021 Tour To South Africa?
Friday, 14 May 2021 By Chris Morris, William Thompson, Alexander Chaize, Victoria Artaza

On 17 February 2021, Cricket South Africa (CSA) lodged a dispute with the International Cricket Council (ICC) following the decision by Cricket Australia (CA) to postpone Australia’s three-Test tour of South Africa (which was scheduled to happen from 3 – 25 March) as a result of COVID-19.

On 2 February 2021, CA announced[1] that it had "no choice" but to postpone the tour due to the public health situation in South Africa in relation to COVID-19.

The cancelled tour formed part of the ICC’s inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), which is set to conclude with a final in Southampton in June 2021. CSA is reportedly seeking compensation[2] for its losses caused by the cancellation of the series, together with the World Test Championship points that would have been up for grabs had the series gone ahead.

Intriguingly, England had an opportunity to send their Ashes rivals into the World Test Championship final if they had beaten India in the final test of their recent series. However, a defeat for England confirmed a New Zealand v India final, and left Australia in third place and South Africa in seventh place in the World Test Championship.

In short, if the dispute between CSA and CA is not resolved amicably, the ICC’s Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) will appoint an independent arbitration panel to hear the case. If the panel determines that CA was wrong to withdraw from the tour, then it could award some or all of the points for the series to South Africa thus affecting both South Africa and Australia’s position in the final World Test Championship standings.

This article examines:

  • How proceedings under the ICC Dispute Resolution Committee work; and
  • Are there any relevant precedents for a case like this?

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About the Author

Chris Morris

Chris Morris

Chris is a Senior Associate at DLA Piper whose practice focuses on a broad mix of commercial disputes, sports law disputes, international arbitration, financial services litigation, and regulatory and internal investigations. He has experience acting in international commercial arbitrations administered under the rules of all major international arbitral institutions, as well as in ad hoc proceedings.

Chris has also spent time on secondment to a leading global investment bank, providing legal support on a broad range of matters within their Litigation and Regulatory Proceedings team.
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William Thompson

William Thompson

William Thompson is an international dispute resolution associate in DLA Piper's London office, having previously been with the firm in Sydney and Brisbane. William has a broad range of experience in general commercial litigation, investigations, international arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution.

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Alexander Chaize

Alexander Chaize

Alexander Chaize focuses on international dispute resolution, with particular emphasis on energy (including renewables) and mining, construction and fraud disputes, as well as disputes in the media, sports and entertainment sectors.

He has experience of litigation, arbitration and mediation having acted for clients including state-owned entities, international companies, large financial institutions and third party funders in high value and multi-jurisdictional disputes.

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Victoria Artaza

Victoria Artaza

Victoria Artaza is a trainee at DLA Piper

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