Written by Richard Wee, Wong Zi Ying and Fatimah Az-Zahra 

Introduction

In 2018, the Sports Development Act 1997 (“the Act”) was amended by Parliament. Amongst its most prominent amendment, was the establishment of the Sports Dispute Committee (“SDC”) as per Section 24 of the Act.

An extract from our earlier article about the amendments of the Act, particularly about the SDC is appended below:-  

The Amended Act 2018 thoroughly amended the outgoing Section 24 of the SDA 1997. The new Section 24 reads as follows such:

Section 24 of the Amended Act 2018:

Where a dispute cannot be resolved in accordance with the internal procedures referred to in section 23, any member of a sports body or a sports body itself may refer the dispute to the Sports Dispute Committee for decision.

24A. (1) Any member of a sports body or a sports body who is aggrieved by the decision of the Sports Dispute Committee may, within twenty-one days after the decision has been communicated to the member of the sports body or the sports body, appeal to the Minister.

(2) The Minister may confirm, reverse or vary the decision of the Sports Dispute Committee.

(3) The decision of the Minister under subsection (2) shall be final.

The new Section 24 in the Amended Act 2018 provides for the formation of  a new sports tribunal to manage disputes arising from any member of a sports body or from the sports body itself. This is consistent with the universal trend around the world where central sports tribunals are formed to manage sports disputes. The new Sports Disputes Committee (“SDC”) is a welcomed layer in the realm of sports administration, providing an opportunity for the sporting community to refer conflicts to a dedicated national tribunal.

In February 2022, the Minister of the Ministry of Youth and Sports (“the Minister”) issued two new sets of bye-laws, aiming to further lay out more precise guidelines for the SDC. 

This article will attempt to simplify and summarise one of the said bye-laws; the Sports Development (Sports Dispute Committee) Regulations 2022 (“The Dispute Resolution Committee Regulation”).

The Dispute Resolution Committee Regulation

In total, thirteen main rules in The Dispute Resolution Committee Regulation were coined which are:-

  1. Citation and commencement
  2. Interpretation
  3. Application of referral of dispute
  4. Withdrawal of referral of dispute
  5. Notice of hearing
  6. Conclusion of hearing
  7. Absence of parties
  8. Absence of any person
  9. Representation in proceeding
  10. Decision
  11. Adjournment of decision
  12. Record of proceeding
  13. Register

Rule 3 lays out the mode of application of dispute which must be made by the applicant and submitted to the Secretary in a form to be determined by the Chairman. The Secretary will then register said application and issue a notice for parties to submit all relevant documents. 

Rule 4 addresses the circumstance where there is a withdrawal of the referral dispute by the applicant. In this situation, the applicant must provide a written notice to the Secretary or orally if the hearing has already commenced. 

The hearing date, time and place itself are to be set by the Chairman as per Rule 5 and the notice can be issued at any time until the hearing is concluded. In the final stage of the hearing, Rule 6 sets out the time which the hearing must be concluded by that is within six (6) months from the date of the hearing commenced. 

Rules 7 and 8 address the potential issue of absence. Parties are required to tender a seven (7) days notice for the absence of an applicant or respondent. In the event where there is no such notice from the applicant, the SDC may then either adjourn the hearing to a future day or dismiss the referral as a whole. Similarly, for absence of a person, the person must also provide a notice of absence seven (7) days prior. 

Further, Rule 9 lays out the option for an office bearer of a sports body to represent the said sports body in a hearing. However, no representation for individual members are allowed whether it be by a person or sports body.

Pursuant to Rule 10, the SDC shall come up with a decision on a majority basis and the SDC shall also in writing give the grounds of decision. In the event where a majority cannot be reached, the Chairman shall then have the right to cast a vote. Alternatively, if the dispute is to be resolved by way of settlement or consent agreement, the SDC shall make a decision in writing without the grounds of decision.

With regards to the adjournment of decision, Rule 11 sets out that the SDC may adjourn a decision if they are unable to come up with one on the date the hearing is concluded. The new date however, must not exceed six (6) months from the date the hearing commenced.

Pursuant to Rules 12 and 13, the Secretary must keep a record of the proceedings and maintain a register in a form or method determined by them.

Summary 

All in all, the newly added bye-law provides further clarification regarding Section 24 of the Act. The bye-law above sets out to explain a step by step guideline for dispute resolution at the referral stage or post-internal proceedings. Nonetheless, questions do arise, inter alia, with regards to the composition of the SDC and the effectiveness of the SDC seeing that its decision can be overturned by the Minister.   

However, the bye-laws also raise some questions and potential conflicts. We will share another article or a podcast on this issue in the near future.

With regards to the internal procedure for dispute resolutions in sports bodies as per Section 23 of the Act, a separate article is written on the issue. 

 

Published on 25 March 2022

Photo by calvin jung on Unsplash

 

 

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