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Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Book Review by Jeffery Benz - SPORT: LAW AND PRACTICE (THIRD EDITION 2014), by Adam Lewis, QC and Jonathan Taylor, published by Bloomsbury Professional, London, hardback, ISBN 978-1780431130 £235.00
Those of us of a certain vintage remember the first three episodes Star Wars, (later known as episodes 4 through 6).  The sequels, episodes 1 through 3, never quite cut it in comparison to our memories of episodes 4 through 6; such is the risk of sequels.
The sequels to legal texts face the same risks, especially when the prior version is so strong and they go through substantial revision.  Sport: Law and Practice (3rd ed. 2014), by Adam Lewis, QC (Blackstone Chambers, London) and Jonathan Taylor (Bird & Bird, London), and published by Bloomsbury Professional, is as solid a sequel as you can find in any field.
I have had the good fortune of having the co-authors of this treatise appear before me as advocates in arbitrations. They are skilled advocates but could their skills of editing and authorship sustain a greater than thousand page book? So when I enriched the pockets of the authors, however slightly, by purchasing my copy of their tome during a recent sojourn in my London office at Lincoln’s Inn, I was skeptical that a new edition of an established text in my field of endeavor could impress me. My skepticism was misplaced.

The first thing that strikes the individual who handles the text is its heft. The single volume is biblical in its proportions with 1966 numbered pages, not including the preface, table of contents/cases, and the contributors’ biographies.1

Despite the size of this volume, the reader is able to find their topics of interest easily. The table of contents is well organized and the table of authorities is comprehensive. While there are many positive things to be said about the book, perhaps the clarity of the organization is its most significant feature. The chapters are arranged by topic, and the chapters proceed in a fundamental and intuitive manner, starting with the basic structural issues affecting sports and diffusing into narrower specific niches, or issue dominated areas. The third edition has undergone substantial reorganization. The initial section on the fundamental and constitutional structure of the sports sector now covers all of the basic concepts in one place (in the former edition, they were spread out over a number of chapters). This edition includes new chapters on burgeoning new areas, including government intervention in sport, match-fixing and related corruption (including reference to the UK's Bribery Act), financial regulation, dealing with on-field offences, mediation/ADR in sports, and selection disputes. In addition to updating each topic, and adding a few new ones, the volume is eminently practical in its advice and perspective, providing primarily practical legal discussion and direction on how to actually deal with a variety of issues confronting the sport practitioner every day, as opposed to the theoretical approach of other books in the field.

Similarly, the subject matter is of impressive breadth, scope, and depth, covering nearly every conceivable topic you could think of in the field of sport. Ensuring the quality of this coverage, the authors, accomplished practitioners themselves, have assembled an all star cast of contributors, each of whom is a noted sports law practitioner, whether barrister, solicitor, in house counsel, or educator, in their own right, spanning the panoply of English sports law superstars with a few stellar Continentals thrown in to boot. It would be wrong of me to single out any one or more of them in this review to the exclusion of any one or more of them; suffice it to say that it is indeed an august body of contributors who really know their subject matter, and, more importantly, demonstrate they can express it with clarity.

For English speaking lawyers outside of Europe, the chapters governing the regulation of sport in the EU are the single clearest discussions on the topic I have found in my 20 years of practice. While this framework is often arcane, curious, and not easily approachable to the foreign lawyer, the volume explains this subject, and its foundations, rationale, and effect, with clarity that I have not seen before.

The book is also useful in the endeavor to identify an appropriate reference book for legal education courses on international or comparative sports law. There is virtually no reference book for this topic with a satisfactory content (let’s face it, it is difficult to have in a single volume coverage of all relevant domestic topics, let alone allowing discussion of international jurisdictions), but if you add this volume to a regular domestic sports law textbook you create a truly comprehensive, and rather more complete, perspective on the lex sportiva. This volume deserves a place not only in the libraries of law schools, universities, and law firms, but also in an easily accessible position on the shelves and desks of individual sports lawyers, solicitors, barristers, leaders of governing bodies, sports agencies, and clubs, and in the libraries of commercial actors invested in sports, around the world. I fully expect to continue to write all over this volume, dog-ear its pages, and wear down its hardback cover in my quest for the right answer to a variety of sports law questions. This is an epic contribution to the field of sports law that sets the bar high for others in the field and advances the understanding of lex sportiva like few others.

In concluding this review, and carrying on my overextension of entertainment analogies, overall I must give this volume two thumbs up, way up.


1. The third edition weighs in at a meaty 1.77 kg (that’s just under 4 pounds for my fellow Americans reading this). By comparison, the second edition weighs in at 2 kg even (that’s just under 4.5 pounds for my fellow Americans) but has a mere 1485 numbered pages, not including the preface, table of contents/cases, and the contributors’ biographies. The third edition has 35 chapters when compared to the second edition’s 33. The third edition has 56 contributors compared to the second edition’s 41. Suffice it to say, it appears that the publisher has accomplished a performance enhanced volume in the third edition, providing approximately 25% more printed pages for about 11.5% less weight. This is the kind of performance enhancement only dreamed of by sports cheaters!

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