Bullying & harassment in sport: How the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 helps protect athletes & employees

Published 27 April 2018 By: Nina Goolamali QC

Selection of Sports Balls

In the last 12 months we have seen a publicity glare surrounding bullying and harassment in sport and media,1 ranging from the #MeToo campaign to complaints by individual athletes about bullying (see by illustration the ongoing Jess Varnish litigation2 against British Cycling, and the paralympian snowboarder Cassie Cava’s complaints3 against British Parasnowsport).

Accordingly, this article reviews the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act 19974 and explores the extent to which the Act provides rights and remedies to those working in Sport who have been victims of such behaviour. Specifically, it looks at:

  • The Protection from Harassment Act 1997

    • Stated aim

    • The statutory prohibition against harassment

    • Harassment defined

    • Course of conduct

    • Excepted courses of conduct (defences)

  • Can an employer be vicariously liable for harassment under the 1997 Act?

  • Targeted harassment

  • Damages for harassment under the 1997 Act

  • The Act applied in a sports context


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Nina Goolamali

Nina Goolamali QC

SILK: 2017 CALL: 1995

Described as “one of the most knowledgeable and personable barristers around”, who is “supremely intelligent” and “just keeps getting better”, Nina has a very well established practice in Sports Law. She took silk in 2017 and is ranked as a Tier 1 Barrister in Sport in the Legal 500 2017.

Nina is highly regarded as a skilled, commercially astute and sensitive advocate and negotiator in complex multi-million pound cases arising in sports disputes.

Nina leads the 2TG Sports Team and has been described in Chambers & Partners as a “sports expert”. She is praised in the Legal 500 for having “unwavering tenacity and determination to get the right result for the client” and “an impressive level of technical knowledge.”

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