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Key Principles On Player Contracts From The Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (Part 1 – Formation)

Basketball Dunking
Friday, 08 April 2022 By Antanas Paulauskas

Unlike FIFA, with its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has been reluctant to directly regulate the employment relationship between players and clubs. Book 3 of the FIBA Internal Regulations merely suggested the main points to be covered in the employment contract[1].  Historically, some basketball clubs have taken advantage of the unregulated environment and breached the rights of players by not respecting the terms of the contract.

To address these issues, and to preserve respect for contracts and contractual stability in basketball, FIBA established the FIBA Arbitral Tribunal - later renamed to Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT) - in 2007. Although BAT’s jurisdiction is based on voluntary agreement between the parties (i.e. the employment contract must refer to it), BAT has become so popular that numerous agents acting on behalf of players now insist that an arbitration clause in favour of BAT be included in the contract[2].

This series of three articles analyses BAT’s jurisprudence on the formation and performance of basketball employment contracts. It will aim to isolate BAT’s main legal principles and then suggest a model to guide practitioners when drafting contracts or resolving disputes.  Part 1 (below) focuses on the formation of contracts, looking in particular at:

  • Formal requirements to deem a contract formed and binding;
  • Requirements for content of contracts; and
  • Pre-contractual rights and obligations.

Copies of the cases referred to throughout can be downloaded here.[3]

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Antanas Paulauskas

Antanas Paulauskas

Antanas Paulauskas is an Associate Partner at ADLEX law firm, based in Vilnius (Lithuania). Antanas is a sports law attorney, who regularly consults professional athletes, sports clubs, sports federations and other organizations and represent them in litigation both before domestic courts and arbitrations.

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