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May 8, 2006

Trainer’s bid to overturn race result fails

Category: News

Judge holds that Appeal Board did not act arbitrarily or capriciously


Judge hands down second judgment –  this time having reviewed the decisions of the domestic bodies in private law proceedings.

The trainer Willie Mullins sought to challenge a 2004 decision by the Appeal Board of the Jockey Club, which upheld a decision of the Disciplinary Committee to disqualify BE MY ROYAL from the 2002 Hennessy Gold Cup due to the presence in its urine of a prohibited substance (morphine).

Mr Mullins previously sought judicial review in the Administrative Court, arguing that the Court of Appeal’s landmark decision in R v Disciplinary Committee of the Jockey Club ex parte Aga Khan [1993] 1 WLR 909 was (1) wrong, or (2) distinguishable in fact and/or in law. The judge held on that occasion that he was bound by Aga Khan and that the Appeal Board’s decisions were not amenable to judicial review in public law [see R (Mullins) v Appeal Board of the Jockey Club].  The claim was subsequently transferred to the Queen Bench Division.

 

Without deciding firmly whether the High Court had jurisdiction to review the decisions of sporting bodies where the claimant’s right to work was not engaged, the judge rejected the claim on the basis that the Appeal Board’s decision was fair.  An administrative decision to increase the reporting levels for morphine after the race in question did not change the rules of racing themselves and it was neither arbitrary nor capricious for the Appeal Board not to have applied the higher threshold retrospectively.

5RB‘s Mark Warby QC and Iain Christie (instructed by Charles Russell) appeared for the Jockey Club.