CAS Update: Spanish Adopted as Third Official Language and Other Amendments to the Code of Sports-Related Arbitration

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Our sports law team is glad that, as of 1 July 2020, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has adopted Spanish as its third official language. In addition, the ICAS – CAS’ governing body – has also updated some provisions of the Code of Sports-related Arbitration with regard to notifications, communications and electronic video-conferencing.

Spanish adopted as third official language at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and other Amendments of the Code of Sports-related Arbitration

On 30 June 2020 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) – the governing body of the CAS – adopted Spanish as an official language for CAS arbitration.

What does it mean?

After French and English, Spanish will become the third working language of the CAS. This is due to the importance of the Spanish language in the sports arbitration world, in particular in football. According to the CAS, approximatively 10% of its arbitrations each year (out of a total of 600 cases in average per year) involve Spanish-speaking parties and over 400 arbitrations have already been conducted in Spanish.

With this modification, as from 1 July 2020 – the date of entry into force of this amendment into the Code of Sports-related Arbitration (the Code) – if parties do not agree on a language for their arbitration, the president of the panel (or if she/he has not yet been appointed, the President of the relevant Division) may select Spanish as the language of the arbitration.

Other amendments to the Code

In addition, the ICAS has also updated some provisions of the Code with regard to notifications, communications and electronic video-conferencing.

According to the amended Rule 31, parties in CAS proceedings may now file written submissions and copies through the CAS e-filing platform. Previously, written submissions could be sent by fax or email, but parties were then required to also send via courier said submissions to the CAS Court Office in Lausanne (Switzerland).

The CAS e-filing platform is only activated after the opening of the arbitration proceedings and following the parties’ request via a “Case Registration Form” available here that must be sent to the CAS Court Office.

Furthermore, and according to the amended Rule 32, parties can now request a 10-day extension of time – previously it was a maximum of 5 days – for any time limit within the Code without consulting the other party(-ies) to the CAS proceedings. Still, this extension of time does not apply for the statement of appeal’s time limit.

Finally, the ICAS has introduced the possibility to hold meetings and take any decision via teleconference, videoconference or any other electronic means, as well as for its Board. Moreover, the ICAS will no longer have the supervisory role of the CAS Court Office as this has now been delegated to the newly-designated Director General of the CAS, previously known as the Secretary General.

The aforementioned amendments and the new version of the Code have entered into force on 1 July 2020.

These amendments follow the important previous amendments made at the beginning of 2019, whereby following a decision taken by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the cases Pechstein & Mutu v. Switzerland, the CAS updated the Code to allow individuals to request a public hearing in disciplinary cases (Rule 57).

Other important amendments that are not in place now but should be thought about are:

  • Allowing a counter-appeal following the filing of an appeal by a party to the CAS. Currently, a party that would have accepted a decision (rendered by a federation, association or sports-related body) granting part of its prayer for relief needs to file an appeal to the CAS in order not to be precluded to submit its full prayers for relief before the CAS in the event another party files an appeal. Allowing a counter-appeal would avoid unnecessary appeals (when the counter party files no appeal).
  • New rules that would allow a party that needs financial assistance from ICAS to also benefit from a panel of three arbitrators and not only from a single arbitrator (as it is currently the case).

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