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So, you have been sent off or reported and need to attend a sporting tribunal, what do you do?

Far too often players are left scratching their head trying to navigate through the disciplinary rules of their local association or sporting body, only to be more confused on what to do than before they began. This overview provides information on how to best prepare yourself for a sporting tribunal process.

  1. Obtain all relevant information with your disciplinary offence, familiarise yourself with the relevant dates and review the disciplinary rules of whichever sporting body or association applies.

In most circumstances, your association or the sporting body will provide you and/or your club with the relevant information detailing your charge, the independent reports as well as any other evidence associated with your offence. They will also provide you with the date and time that the Tribunal will conduct your hearing.

Depending on your sport, each local association may have their own separate disciplinary regulation and processes. These regulations will include rules which the association or sporting body must follow, such as timeframes to lodge evidence and table offences with the minimum and maximum periods of suspension if found guilty.

  • Consider your charge and obtain supportive evidence

You should take some time to consider and review the information and evidence brought against you in order to make an informed decision on how you wish to proceed in respect of your plea.

It is important to understand a sporting tribunal is not a court of law and generally the rules of evidence will not apply. All that is needed for a tribunal is to ‘inform itself’ any way it wishes to choose in respect of the probative nature of the charge.

If the evidence is overwhelmingly not in your favour, or you concede that you did in fact commit the offence, you should consider an early plea. This will generally allow for a lesser suspension, as the tribunal generally will not be as lenient if you choose to fight the charge and lose.

Even if you choose to enter a guilty plea, you may still need to provide character references or witness statements in order to show the offence is not as severe as first suggested. In doing so, you should carefully review the associations or sporting bodies disciplinary procedures to ensure you are within the timeframe so that evidence can be considered.

  • Seeking legal advice

You should consider seeking legal advice from a sports lawyer. Most associations or sporting bodies disciplinary regulations can be complex and difficult to understand and navigate, by seeking legal advice this will provide you with effective advice and guidance to ensure you are best informed on how to proceed.

Occasionally, a simply perceived dispute could in fact have an underlying legal issue. Most association or sporting body regulations allow lawyers to represent you in sporting tribunals. Legal representation will ensure you have the best chance of getting back on the pitch sooner.

  • Focus on the issues relevant to your charge

Many clubs/players get side-tracked with issues that are not relevant to their particular charge. This is not uncommon. Events may have occurred leading up to the offence or afterwards,  which could have inflamed the situation and led to the matter being escalated or  the player may have had  an emotionally charged response to the incident.

In order to fully understand what you have been charged with, you should attempt to identify the events in stages. This will ensure you are focusing on the particular incident you are being charged with rather than incidents that may not be related to the charge.

By identifying the events in stages it will allow any tribunal members to better understand your version of the events and can help you to beat or reduce your initial charge.

  • Familiarise yourself with the appeals process

In some cases, you may consider appealing the decision of the tribunal. If you choose this path, you should take great care in ensuring you are informed on the period of time you have to appeal the decision. It may be difficult to appeal the original decision if you are outside the timeframe stipulated in the associations or governing bodies disciplinary regulations.

In addition, when considering lodging an appeal you should keep in mind the original suspension will stand until the appeal tribunal meet for your second hearing. There are generally limited grounds for an appeal to be heard and there may be a cost involved in lodging the appeal.

You should always seek legal advice from a sports lawyers in consideration of lodging an appeal.

If your club or association needs assistance in drafting and updating your regulations or, you are a player seeking advice with respect of a tribunal hearing please click here to contact Madison Marcus  , email us at info@madisonmarcus.com.au or call on (02) 8022 1222

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