The School of Law was delighted to welcome Professor Ian Blackshaw and David Barniville SC to the University of Limerick on Thursday the 27th of October for an evening seminar on Sport and the Law. Prof. Blackshaw, an international sports lawyer and arbitrator in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), discussed whether there is such a thing as sports law. The talk was interactive with the participants giving their views on the topic. Prof. Blackshaw concluded: “Whether, strictly speaking, Sports Law exists or does not, with Sport now a product and a mega industry in its own right, representing more than 3% of world trade and 3.7% of the combined GNP of the Member States of the European Union, there is an increasing need for the Law and the Courts to be involved in the process in some form or another and to some extent or another, as a final fall-back, notwithstanding the increasing popularity of Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for settling sports-related disputes quickly and effectively, including, not least, CAS Arbitrations and Mediations!”. Prof. Blackshaw’s talk made reference to issues such as consent, contractual capacity, doping and the standard of proof. The latter tied into David Barniville’s thought provoking talk on the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. Mr Barniville discussed the workings of the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel of which he is a Vice Chair. Mr Barniville gave an insight into how the Panel operates and the types of cases it hears including whereabouts failures, Therapeutic Use Exemptions and cases where the athlete is arguing that there is no significant fault or negligence on their part and the mitigating and aggravating circumstances the Panel takes into account. He observed that since its creation in 2004, approximately 40 cases have come before the Panel and as of yet, no case heard by the Panel has been referred to the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
The seminar attracted over thirty local solicitors and barristers along with a couple of students and staff from other departments. The event was chaired by Laura Donnellan, who lectures in Sport and the Law and author of Sport and the Law: A Concise Guide (Dublin: Blackhall Publishing, 2010) and Sports Law (with Susan Leahy) (The Hague: Kluwer, 2014) as well as a number of articles in international law journals including the Entertainment and Sports Law Journal. The Director of the International Commercial and Economic Law (ICEL) Group, Raymond Friel welcomed the speakers and attendees. The seminar was funded by ICEL; much gratitude is owed to Raymond Friel for supporting the seminar. Thank you to Aoife Finnerty, a PhD candidate at the University of Limerick, for carrying out the administrative tasks at the seminar. Thank you to our administrator, Carol Huguet, who organised the catering, the flights and accommodation. Thank you to the two speakers, Prof. Blackshaw and Mr Barniville whose knowledge and delivery of their talks made it, in the words of one of practitioners who attended, “a very informative, engaging and enjoyable seminar”.