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Expert Insights

01 June 2022

The Bahrain Chamber of Disputes Resolution unveils Sports Arbitration Rules and Roster of Dedicated Arbitrators

The Bahrain Chamber of Disputes Resolution (“BCDR”) has published, on 17 March 2022, a brand-new set of Sports Arbitration Rules (“Rules”) available in Arabic, English and French. This follows the publication of a proposed draft of the Rules in October 2021 and consultations with sporting bodies and practitioners.

The Rules consist of a fine-tuning of the current 2017 BCDR Rules of Arbitration to cater to the needs of the parties to sports disputes.

The ability of the BCDR to serve as a specialized institution in this field will help Bahrain in keeping pace with regional offerings and developments in the increasingly popular and competitive sports and entertainment arena.

Among the main features of the Rules, the following should be noted:

1. Arbitration Agreement: Formal and Substantive Application of the Rules

The Rules will apply not only in circumstances where parties have agreed in writing (either pre- or post-dispute) to have their dispute settled under them, but also where the parties to a sports-related dispute have provided for the arbitration by the BCDR, with no reference to particular rules (Rule 1.1).

2. The BCDR to Administer “Appeal Arbitrations”

In most instances, the BCDR will typically be concerned with administering sports-related disputes which the parties have agreed in writing to arbitrate (defined as “First Instance Arbitrations” at Rule 1.1).

However, the Rules also authorise the BCDR to administer appeals against first instance decisions or arbitration awards “where permitted by applicable statutes or regulations of a sporting body” (Rule 1.1). This is a feature already seen in the rules of well-established sports arbitration institutions such as the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sports.

The BCDR will only accept to administer an appeal if:

  • There is an express written agreement that an appeal is allowed (as made explicit in the BCDR’s press release); and
  • All prior legal remedies provided for in the statutes or regulations of the relevant sporting body have been exhausted (Rule 6.2).

Under the Rules, the arbitral tribunal has “the power to uphold, annul or amend the decision” that is subject to the appeal (Rule 10).

3. Appointment of Arbitrators Under the Rules

Rule 12.1 sets out that “The arbitral tribunal shall consist of one or three arbitrators appointed exclusively from the Roster available at www.bcdr.org”.

The Roster was published on the BCDR’s website and can be found here. The Roster was published on 23 May 2022, thereby making the Rules effectively implementable from that day.

The arbitrators on the Roster have been selected based on their specialist expertise, with an emphasis on those based in the MENA region. At the date of writing the Roster comprises 20 arbitrators.

4. No Referral to Supporting Judge / Interim Measures

To ensure the arbitration is carried out in a time-effective and streamlined fashion, by submitting to the Rules the parties waive their right to seek urgent and interim measures from any state authority or courts “insofar as such waiver can validly be made” (Rule 27.1) i.e., to the extent that such a waiver is not incompatible with the law applicable to the arbitration.

The Rules however do allow for the seeking of Interim measures of protection from an Emergency Arbitrator or, after appointment, by the Tribunal itself (Rules 28 and 29).

5. Representation of Parties

By contrast to arbitration proceedings governed by the BCDR 2017 Arbitration Rules, representation of the parties under the Rules does not require the involvement of a “legal” representative (a lawyer) - an adjective replaced throughout the Rules by the more generic “authorised” representative.  

6. Administrative Fees

Pursuant to Appendix 1 to the Rules, in addition to a non-refundable “Filing Fee” of USD 250, the parties to a First Instance Arbitration or to an Appeal Arbitration will need to pay a “Case Management Fee” ranging from a minimum of USD 250 (sole arbitrator)/ USD 375 (three arbitrators) for smaller claims (up to USD 12,500), to a maximum of USD 35,000 + 0.1% of the amount claimed (sole arbitrator)/ + 0.125% of the amount claimed (three arbitrators) where the combined value of the claims and counterclaims exceed USD 10,000,000. The Case Management Fee is capped at USD 50,000.

7. Fees of the Tribunal

Save in exceptional circumstances where - subject to the parties’ agreement - higher rates may apply, Appendix 1 to the Rules sets out the hourly and daily rates to be charged by each arbitrator.

An arbitrator’s fees range from a minimum of USD 200 (hourly) / USD 1,600 (daily) for smaller claims (up to USD 500,000), to a maximum of USD 500 (hourly) / USD 4,000 (daily) where the combined value of the claims and counterclaims exceed USD 15,000,000.

An application for the appointment of an Emergency Arbitrator will require the payment of a USD 5,000 fee.

Conclusion

The publication of dedicated sports arbitration rules is a positive development for Bahrain and the sports industry in the region. Providing a robust and efficient dispute resolution mechanism will make hosting sporting events in Bahrain an even more attractive prospect.

 

This note has been provided for informative purposes only and is by no means exhaustive. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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