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

Rugby tackle in the air
Monday, 17 July 2017 By Jack Anderson, Jon Heshka

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.?

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About the Author

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne where he teaches criminal law, the law of torts and sports law.

Jack has published widely in the area of sports law and 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). 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. He is Honorary Member of the Centre for Sports Law, Sports Policy and Sports Diplomacy, University of Riejeka, Croatia and an external examiner at the University of Malaya.

An accredited workplace mediator and a Chartered Arbitrator, (CArb). Jack is an arbitrator on the international panel for Sport Resolutions UK and World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal. Jack is a member of International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit and a founding member of the Asia Racing Federation’s Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce. In Australia, Jack sits on the disciplinary tribunal of the Football Federation of Victoria and for Basketball Australia. In 2019, Jack was appointed by the Victoria government to the Board of Harness Racing Victoria. He is Vice-President of Gaelic Games Victoria.

From 2016-2019, he was a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and appeared on the list of arbitrators of the CAS Ad hoc Division for the UEFA EURO 2016 (European football championships). He was the sole CAS arbitrator at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. In 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission and was asked by the Australian government to chair the advisory committee to prepare for the establishment of a national sports tribunal. In 2020, he was appointed as a member of the National Sports Tribunal of 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.

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