Bradley v The Jockey Club (No.3)

Reference: [2005] EWCA Civ 1056; [2006] ISLR, SLR-1; The Times, 14 July 2005

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: Lord Phillips MR, Buxton and Scott Baker LJJ

Date of judgment: 12 Jul 2005


Sports Law - domestic disciplinary decision - disqualification -domestic appeal - period of disqualification reduced - allegation penalty excessive - High Court dismissing claim - appeal from High Court - restraint of trade - nature and standard of review


Instructing Solicitors: Charles Russell


B was charged by the Jockey Club with a number of breaches of the Rules of Racing alleged to have been committed during his time as a licensed jockey. The Jockey Club Disciplinary Committee found some charges proved and imposed penalties which included 8 years’ disqualification. The Jockey Club Appeal Board dismissed an appeal on liability but substituted a 5 year disqualification. B’s claim for a declaration that the penalty was excessive was dismissed by Richards J, who <A
href=”″ target=_parent>held that the court’s function was to review rather than take disciplinary decisions; that the Appeal Board’s decision was impeccable; and that he would not have imposed a lesser penalty. B gained permission to appeal on the issue of whether the judge adopted the correct approach in law, and other issues. Shortly before the hearing he abandoned his challenge on the issue of law.


(1) Was the judge’s approach correct in law? (2) was the judge’s application of the law wrong? In particular, was he wrong to grant a margin of appreciation to the Appeal Board in deciding what penalty was appropriate?


Dismissing the appeal, (1) Richards J had correctly stated the law; (2) B was wrong to contend that the court was as well placed as the Appeal Board to determine what penalty was proportionate; professional trade and business bodies are better placed to decide what is required in their fields; (3) the court was unable to accept B’s submission that it had a duty to protect B’s ‘right to work’; where an individual takes up a profession depending on the observance of certain rules, and then breaks them, he cannot be heard to contend he has a vested right to work; (4) Richards J’s conclusion, that the Appeal Board was fully entitled to reach its conclusion was plainly correct, and the appeal was hopeless.


The decision will be welcomed by sports regulators. Richards J’s conclusion, that the High Court’s function is to ensure that disciplinary decisions are lawful, rather than re-take the decisions, followed a thorough legal analysis. Although, by the time of the hearing, Graham Bradley had abandoned his challenge to that conclusion, the Court of Appeal went out of its way to endorse and commend the judge’s legal analysis. Buxton LJ added a significant analysis of the court’s 1966 decision in Nagle v Fielden (which concerned a rule prohibiting women from becoming licensed trainers), holding that the case had no bearing on the court’s approach to the review of disciplinary sanctions.