Written by Richard WeeWong Zi Ying and Fatimah Az-Zahra

Introduction

In Malaysia, the main legislation governing sports development and administration of sports is none other than the Sports Development Act 1997 (“the Act”) which was also recently amended in 2018. 

In February 2022, the Minister of the Ministry of Youth and Sports (“the Minister”) issued two sets of bye-laws, with the aim to initiate and to regulate dispute resolution within sports bodies whether it be internally or by the Sports Dispute Committee (“SDC”). 

According to Section 23 of the Act, every sports body may resolve disputes arising therein in accordance with internal procedures prescribed in the regulations.

This article will seek to summarise one of the bye-laws namely the Sports Development (Internal Procedures for Resolving Disputes within Sports Body) Regulations 2022 (“The Internal Procedure Regulation”).

The Internal Procedure Regulation

In total, there are fourteen Rules in The Internal Procedure Regulation which are:-

  1. Citation and commencement
  2. Interpretation
  3. Dispute complaint
  4. Establishment of committee
  5. Membership of committee
  6. Secretary of committee
  7. Notice of hearing
  8. Hearing
  9. Absence of parties
  10. Adjournment of hearing
  11. Period of dispute resolution
  12. Decision
  13. Unresolved dispute complaint
  14. Saving

Generally, The Internal Procedure Regulation sets out the rules for the management of receiving a complaint, establishing a committee to hear the complaint, prescribing membership, hearing process and decision of this committee.

Pursuant to Rule 3, all complaints shall be in writing and addressed to the relevant Secretary of the sports organisation, and pursuant to Rule 4, a committee to hear this dispute will be formed within twenty-one (21) days.

With regards to the membership of this committee, Rule 5 empowers the sports body to appoint a chairperson and any number of members that may be determined by the said sports organisation.

For the hearing, Rule 7 sets out that the Chairman of the committee shall hear the case within sixty (60) days from the date it is established. According to Rule 7(3) and Rule 8 of The Internal Procedure Regulation, relevant documents may be tendered for consideration at the hearing. 

Rules 9 and 10 deals with absence of parties at the hearings, empowering the committee to adjourn the hearing if necessary. Interestingly under Rule 11, this Internal Procedure Regulation prescribes a time period of three (3) years from the date dispute complaint is received to resolve this issue. 

Pursuant to Rule 12, any decision of the committee shall be delivered in writing and to be handed to the relevant parties within seven (7) days from the date of the decision. 

Rule 13 sets the tone for the next part of this article. It states that any disputes that cannot be resolved may be referred to the SDC of Section 24 of the Act. This is important as it will further relate to the subsequent part of the article; what happens when a referral to the SDC is submitted. 

Rule 14(2) states that “Any dispute arising and has yet to be commenced in accordance with the internal procedures of the sports body prior to the date of commencement of these Regulations, shall be resolved by the sports body in accordance with these Regulations.” This raises an interesting question of whether a bye-law prevails over a Constitutional procedure of a Sports Association.

Rule 14(1) on the other hand, clarifies that any pre-existing ongoing dispute proceeding in the said sports body may proceed as per the existing rules of that sports body. 

Summary

On a final note, The Internal Procedure Regulation as a whole manages to shed a light on the previously indistinct regulations of Section 23. It also sets out to explain a step by step guideline for dispute resolution between persons, sports bodies or committee members itself. However, the internal procedure regulation does raise questions on its standing as opposed to pre-existing internal procedure rules in sports bodies. While this Internal Procedure Regulation suggests that it shall be the prevailing internal procedure rules from now on, but many sports bodies if not all, have overreaching and long standing internal dispute mechanism which may not be easy to dismantle and replace with this new Regulation.

With regards to the rules pertaining to the sports dispute committee, a separate article is appended on that issue.

Published on 25 March 2022

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

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