Convening a Tribunal
The Tribunal, or Panel, which is to hear the charge must be and must be seen to be independent and impartial
. It may be convenient to select three individuals from within the sport, but decisions made by that Panel may not be seen to be independent in the event of a challenge.
At least one of the Panel members should understand the sport. It is also useful from a risk management perspective if the Panel members can understand any legal arguments that may be put to them.
Sport Resolutions is written into the disciplinary rules of many NGBs as the provider of an independent legally qualified chairperson for both first instance hearings and appeals. In some cases Sport Resolutions also provides one or more wing members. Alternatively Sport Resolutions can nominate individuals from its Panels for appointment by the NGB on a case by case basis.
In any event the source from which Panel members will be drawn should be clearly identified in the disciplinary procedure.
Panels usually consist of an odd number of members, with 3 being the most popular number. One member of the Panel should be identified as Chairperson in accordance with the disciplinary procedure.
No person involved with the case or with any party to the case in any way, or who has expressed strong views one way or another, should be appointed. Those with links with those with a vested interest in the outcome should also be avoided. The question to ask is “would the reasonable man or woman on the street think that it was fair for this individual to be appointed to decide this case”? If there is any doubt, use someone else. Remember that the aim is always to provide a fair and reasonable hearing and not to secure a particular outcome.
NGBs are given considerable room for manoeuvre in their selection of Panel members. The Courts have decided that they should be given as free a hand as possible to control their own disciplinary processes without running the risk of interference. However those disciplinary processes must still be run in a way that is consistent with the fundamental requirements of fairness. If a process is unfair the risk of a successful legal challenge to the outcome increases.