German Federal Tribunal rejects Claudia Pechstein’s claim for damages against International Skating Union (ISU)

By Christian Keidel

In this article Christian Keidel, counsel for the International Skating Union, provides a brief summary of the decision of The German Federal Tribunal's (“BGH”) ruling on 7 June 2016 that Mrs. Claudia Pechstein’s claim for damages against the International Skating Union (“ISU”) in the amount of EUR 4.4 million is inadmissible.1 The BGH concluded that Mrs. Pechstein had signed a valid arbitration agreement in favor of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”). Therefore, the BGH concluded that German state courts have no jurisdiction to decide on her claim and lifted the decision of the previous instance, the Higher Regional Court in Munich.

The BGH panel sitting with five judges summarized its reasoning at today’s hearing in Karlsruhe as follows:

The ISU did not abuse its dominant market position when it asked Mrs. Pechstein to sign an arbitration agreement in favor of CAS as part of the participation form for the ISU World Championship in Hamar 2009. The BGH found that the CAS is a real court of arbitration according to German law despite the fact that federations have a majority position in the organization of the CAS (i.e. within the ICAS). The court rejected Pechstein’s argument that federations and athletes have adverse interests which would raise doubts regarding the independence of CAS. To the contrary, the court found that federations and athletes have parallel interests when it comes to the fight against doping.

Furthermore, the BGH concluded that the CAS Code sufficiently secures the independence of CAS panels by giving each party the possibility to nominate and challenge arbitrators and by allowing CAS awards to be challenged in front of the Swiss Federal Tribunal. In addition, the BGH found that considering the circumstances in the sports environment the arbitration agreement had been signed voluntarily. Therefore, BGH also rejected the alleged violation of Article 6 European Convention on Human Rights. BGH’s full reasoning in writing is expected in two to three weeks.

BGH’s press release in German can be found here:
https://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=pm&Datum=2016&Sort=3&nr=74892&pos=0&anz=97

 

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About the Author

Christian Keidel

Christian Keidel

Partner, Lentze Stopper

Christian Keidel has been focusing his area of expertise for more than 12 years on dispute resolution in sport and the advice of international sport associations. He has represented successfully stakeholders in sports in numerous cases in front of the dispute resolution bodies of UEFA and FIFA as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and state courts. He is also a long-time advisor to international sports associations with respect to regulations, good governance and the commercialisation of rights. Further, he provided legal advice in various high-value transfers of football players. His clients particularly appreciate his precise working methods and his ability to solve complex disputes with a comprehensible and convincing argumentation. Christian Keidel regularly gives lectures on sports law at the Technical University of Munich and is a member of the lawinsport editorial board.

- Since 2020 Partner at Lentze Stopper Rechtsanwälte
- 2009 to 2020 Salary Partner at Martens Rechtsanwälte
- Since 2016 Member of the lawinsport editorial board
- Since 2010 lecturer in Sports Law at the Technical University of Munich
- 2007 to 2009 Lawyer at Beiten Burkhardt (Munich)
- 2005 to 2007 Legal clerkship at the Higher Regional Court of the District of Munich, with internships at, inter alia, Waldorf Frommer and Elber Forino Vagedes Abogados (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
- 2001 to 2005 Studied law at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich
- 1997 to 2001 Studied at the State Academy of Photographic Design in Munich, subsequently working as a freelance photographer

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