Reference:  ISLR, SLR-71
Court: Jockey Club Appeal Board
Judge: Sir E Cazalet, Chairman
Date of judgment: 5 Mar 2003
Summary: Sports Law- Tribunal- Appeal- Human rights - Article 6 ECHR- independence and impartiality
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Instructing Solicitors: Charles Russell
The former champion jockey, Graham Bradley, was the subject of disciplinary proceedings by the Jockey Club. He challenged the lawfulness of the process on the grounds that the Jockey Club’s procedures did not comply with Article 6 ECHR, in that neither the disciplinary committee or the appeal board provided for under the rules was an independent and impartial tribunal with full jurisdiction. He further alleged that there were particular circumstances which led to an appearance of a lack of impartiality. These objections were rejected by the committee but renewed by Bradley before the Appeal Board.
(1) Whether the Jockey Club disciplinary procedures complied with the requirements of Article 6 ECHR.
(2) Whether statements made by Jockey Club officials, prejudicial media reporting and other matters gave rise to an appearance of bias in the particular case.
(1) As was common ground, what the law required was that the process as a whole, including such rights of recourse to the courts as exist, should guarantee a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal. Although it was conceded that the disciplinary committee did not meet the requirement of apparent independence it did meet the requirement of impartiality. The appeal board, with an independent legally qualified chairman who could not be outvoted, met both the independence and impartiality requirements, and it possessed ‘full jurisdiction’ to deal with the issues.
(2) The matters relied on in support of the contention that there were specific facts giving rise to an appearance of bias would not have led a fair-minded observer to see a real possibility of bias.
Since the HRA the courts have examined compliance with Article 6 in a series of cases concerned with public authorities. In this case the appeal board of the Jockey Club had to apply the law to the disciplinary processes of a sporting regulator. The subject received a thorough examination by the chairman, a former High Court judge. Although Mr Bradley later brought High Court proceedings against the Jockey Club, those were limited to an appeal against the penalty imposed. He did not challenge this decision.