Procedural Steps Leading to Hearing
Once the Panel has been appointed it is necessary to consider how the case is to be presented. There are a number of standard procedural steps that are required in most cases. Some NGBs include the details of these in their disciplinary procedural rules. Others require the Panel, once appointed, to state the steps that have to be completed pre-hearing. These steps are known in legal terms as directions.
It is important to try as hard as possible to achieve equality as between the parties. This means that each party must be given a reasonable opportunity to present his case under conditions that do not place him at a substantial disadvantage when compared with his opponent.
The sort of directions that might be included in disciplinary procedures, or ordered by the Panel, are:
- Provision for each side to prepare and disclose to the other side within specified time limits a statement of its case. These documents are sometimes known as pleadings.
- Disclosure of the documents that each side relies upon to the other side. This can be done with the pleadings or as a separate exercise.
- Exchange of witness statements so that each side can see what the other’s witnesses will say at a hearing. The more complex the charges, the more likely that this direction will be required.
- In complex cases, the preparation of certain other documents, such as skeleton arguments, and bundles of documents may also be required.
As a general point a fair hearing requires that a party should be able to examine the evidence upon which the allegations against him are made, preferably well in advance of the hearing. The disciplinary rules should state whether or not the individual is entitled to legal representation (at his own expense). Generally this should be permitted.
Sport Resolutions’ Arbitration Rules provide a useful summary of the procedural steps that might be required in the lead up to a complex disciplinary hearing.