Name: Simon Grossobel Firm: Squire Patton Boggs Location: London University: University of Bristol Undergraduate degree: History
the CAS has moved to a new building where hearings can be heard in public – this is a self- preservation measure to try and head any Article 6 challenges off at the pass. Getting your hands dirty When asked for advice to aspiring lawyers in general and those wanting to specialise in the sports sector in particular, Simon is pure practicality: first, when starting your training contract, “be prepared to get your hands dirty with the more menial things like document management. Even later in your career, this doesn’t go away, because the admin is incredibly important in litigation – even if perhaps not the most fun part”. Second, “read, read, read! There is so much in the field that you can easily read online, like CAS judgments. Reading those can give you a really good basic understanding of the uniqueness of sports law”. Another insightful – if somewhat unexpected – pointer for wannabe English sports lawyers is to have a look at Swiss law. “It’s very important because so many sports governing bodies, and the CAS, are based in Switzerland, with CAS decisions appealable to the Swiss courts. If you look at the CAS Rules applicable to appeals, the starting point for governing law is the ‘applicable regulations’ – nine times out of 10 that leaves you with Swiss law. As an English lawyer, you won’t be able, or be expected to practise Swiss law, but understanding the basics of it is a great way to get a leg up.” International intrigue, pre- eminent clients, headline-grabbing cases and a steady flow of intellectual and strategic challenges to tackle – what more could an ambitious lawyer want?
under his belt and “immediately loved it” – not only for the aforementioned variety of work and academic challenge, but also because of the “great people” on the sports team, whom he describes as “very supportive”. Indeed, aware of his taste for advocacy, they offered him a place on an in-house advocacy training course, standing him in good stead to fulfil his longer-term goal of becoming a solicitor advocate. Athletes against the system Turning to hot topics in the field, Simon nods to the underlying tension between sports governing bodies and athletes, and the jurisdictional tussles that often result. “There have been a lot of key cases recently, both here and at European level – even up to the European Court of Human Rights – dealing with the extent to which governing bodies can force athletes to consent to arbitration. The governing bodies naturally don’t want national courts to interfere in the way sport is governed. There is some method to this, because consistency of decisions is vital for a level playing field, especially in the global context. Take doping, for example: how would it work in practice for international sport if you’re allowed to have up to X amount of a substance according to a German court, but Y amount according to the English court?” A key element of these disputes, which is not new, is the challenge to the nature of CAS itself. “The challenges often focus on how CAS is set up and designed – it has lots of critics, in that it’s staffed and funded by people sympathetic to governing bodies, who are thus overrepresented to the detriment of the athletes. Although it’s not perfect, CAS is still necessary though. You need a body to adjudicate at a supranational level to create a level playing field across sports.” According to Simon, it was significant that the European Court of Human Rights confirmed the CAS’ independence and impartiality last year, but that doesn’t mean that these challenges are over. He adds that it’s worth noting that
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