Facing a disciplinary hearing for bringing the game into disrepute can be a challenging situation.
Based on my experience from Chairing and sitting on Disciplinary Panels to representing participants who have been charged, there are a variety of points to consider that will help you prepare for and present your case effectively. It’s important to consult at an early stage with a Sports Lawyer who specialises in sports law who can advise on the specific situation.
My tips to consider are:
Consult with a Sports Lawyer: Choose someone with experience in Sports Law and disciplinary proceedings and who will guide you through the process. It is important to understand your rights and the likely outcome at an early stage.
Review the evidence: Carefully examine all the evidence against you. This may include witness statements, videos, emails, or any other relevant documents relied upon by the Sports Governing Body. Understanding the case against you is crucial.
Gather evidence in support of your position: Collect evidence from people who may have seen the incident and obtain character references, testimonials, or any information that supports your case and may demonstrate your actions did not, or were not, intended to bring the sport into disrepute.
Know the rules and regulations: Familiarise yourself with the specific rules and regulations of your sport’s governing body that you are accused of breaching. This will help you understand the exact charges against you.
Develop a strong defence: Work closely with your Sports Lawyer to develop a clear and persuasive defence strategy, if so advised. Learn to appreciate the difference between mitigation and a defence.
Maintain professionalism: Throughout the process, maintain a professional and respectful demeanour and avoid making any public statements or comments that could further damage your reputation or case, particularly on social media platforms.
Prepare for the hearing: Be thoroughly prepared for the disciplinary hearing. Practice answering questions and presenting your case convincingly.
Be realistic: Depending on the circumstances and applicable sanctions if charges are found proven, it may be worth exploring settlement or accepting the charge. Your Sports Lawyer can advise you whether this is a sensible and pragmatic response.
Show remorse and commitment: If you have made a mistake, express genuine remorse for your actions and demonstrate a commitment to learning from your errors and improving your behaviour. Disciplinary Panels take this into account when deciding sanction.
Stay informed: Stay updated on any changes or developments in your case and continue working closely with your Sports Lawyer throughout the process.
Remember that each case is unique, and the effectiveness of these tips may vary depending on the specific details of your situation. Obtaining advice to create a tailored strategy for your disciplinary hearing is vital.
Get to know Mark
Mark Scott heads the Sports Law team at Hansells Solicitors, he has represented several Sports Governing Bodies and Participants on regulatory matters. He focuses on disciplinary proceedings and disputes. His experience includes:
- Director of the Norfolk Cricket Board and Chair of its Disciplinary Appeal Panel.
- Has advised Cricket Board, affiliated, Leagues, and Clubs on the ECB General Conduct Regulations.
- Appointed to sit as on the Disciplinary, Disputes and Appeal Panel for British Canoeing.
- Adjudicated on selection appeals by athletes on the Canoe Sprint World Class Programme for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games.
- Appointed to sit on Football Association Regional Discipline Panel.
- Appointed by the Football Association to its National Serious Case Panel.
- Experienced in dealing with the full range of misconduct regulations, including online social media breaches, improper conduct, threatening behaviour, violent conduct, foul and abusive language, discrimination, and assault on match officials, both in and out of competition.