by Ali Mashraf
Laws reflect the ever-changing needs of our society. With the passage of time and the advent of technology, new issues and challenges pertaining to the legal arena are cropping up every now and then. Sport, an activity for recreation and rejuvenating life, is not merely so in the 21st century since an industry surrounding it has grown and flourished globally. As such, the need for regulating mechanisms has also been felt by policymakers to contain illegal and unethical practices in this domain recently.
Sports law is not an isolated branch of law, rather it is a multi-dimensional law sourced from national and international regulations with elements from constitutional law, contract law, intellectual property law, competition law, insurance law inter alia.
The National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore has been at the forefront of legal education in India. The institution hosted a Professional Certificate Course on Sports Law from February 9-11, 2018 at its International Training Centre. Lawyers and students with career aspirations in sports law, sports industry professionals, representatives of governing bodies as well as interested academicians from different regions of India and neighboring countries attended this training program.
At the inauguration ceremony, Professor Dr. O.V. Nandimath, Registrar, NLSIU remarked that his experiences from Britain regarding sports law actually motivated him to initiate this training. Dr. Nandimath felt that law schools should be at the forefront of innovation and invention and that was the reason for hosting such a program.
The Chief Guest of the ceremony, Shri A M Prasad, DGP, Government of Kerala lauded the initiative of NLSIU and said that with the advent of new age crimes, technology is being used to abet such crimes. Mentioning the incident of renowned cricketer Sreesanth’s match-fixing scandal at IPL as the first exposure of sports to criminal law, he remarked that the police should also be a part of such training to tackle and curb these crimes.
Dr. Sairam Bhatt, Professor of Law, NLSIU then addressed the participants and opined that with law now getting into specializations and more specialized branches evolving in the legal arena, ample scope has been created for lawyers to practice. Citing the BCCI case in the Supreme Court of India and the Commonwealth Games scam, he propounded that sports law, which he felt is a collection of many laws, would become a booming arena in the upcoming days.
Following the opening ceremony, the first session of the day was conducted by Ms. Priya Mishra, Assistant Professor of Law, NLSIU on ‘Introduction to Sports Law: Issues & Challenges’. An interesting discourse ensued on whether it should be called sports law or sports and the law since the former meant unique substantive corpus of law while the latter meant law applied to the sports industry. She also discussed the intersection of sports with other legislations and domains of law. It set the groundwork for all the upcoming sessions of the program.
The other sessions of the day were conducted by Professor Joga Rao, Visiting Professor of Law, NLSIU on ‘Criminal Law and Sports’ and ‘Sports Insurance and the Law’. Dr. Rao modified the question of whether criminal law should be applied to sports to whether criminal law should apply to sports besides disciplinary action. He also spoke at length on the application of criminal law even when there is a consent factor and cited cases from Canada, USA, Australia and UK in this regard.
The second day had two sessions dedicated to Contract Law & Its Application in Sports Domain. The sessions were facilitated by Dr. Sairam Bhatt as well as Ms. Archita Narayanan and Ms. Raagya Zadu, Teaching Associates at NLSIU. Dr. Bhatt mentioned how sports law was mostly dominated by contract law and the sessions focused on the conceptual understanding of sports contracts and risk insulation in such contracts.
Following that, Dr. O.V. Nandimath facilitated the session on ‘Sports Associations & Law Relating to Societies’. He remarked that the success of any organization depended upon two things- good system and good people manning the system. These were, he felt, the soil and seed for the success of a system.
Ms. Archita Narayanan and Ms. Raagya Zadu then conducted the discussion on the case of BCCI v Cricket Association of Bihar and its future implications on BCCI. The last session of the day was facilitated by Advocate Sudarshan Rangan on ‘Tax Implication in Sports’. The session shed light on the Indian taxation laws, the dilemma of sportspersons coming to India and having to pay hefty taxes and becoming victims of double taxing as well as a comparison between the local and foreign tax legislation.
The last day of the training began with the session of Mr. Vivek Anand Sagar, Research Associate, NLSIU on ‘Interface of Sports & Intellectual Property Law’. The session focused on the immense scope of legal practice regarding IPR in sports domain and how IPR was shaping up the sports industry with each passing day.
An interesting session on ‘Sports Persons – Advertisements, Endorsement & Marketing’ was then conducted by Ms. Priya Mishra, Ms. Archita Narayanan and Ms. Raagya Zadu. The legal issues surrounding ads, endorsements, marketing tactics and strategies and the laws regulating such practices were reviewed along with a discussion on the possible scopes for reforms.
Afterwards, Dr. S. R. Sarala, SSO, SAI, NSSC, Bangalore conducted the session on ‘Anti-Doping Rules framework’, discussing the harmful impact of numerous banned substances. rules and procedures of World Anti-Doping Agency and National Anti Doping Agency, the liability of manufacturers and the role of legal practitioners in doping-related issues.
The final session was conducted by Mr. Praveen Tripathi, Assistant Professor of Law, NLSIU on ‘Dispute Resolution in Sports’. He propounded that it was essential for legal practitioners to understand the subject matter of the sports dispute to identify the proper forum for dispute resolution. He also discussed the working procedure of Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and remarked that currently, the judgments and decisions of CAS are solely developing sports law jurisprudence.
At the conclusion of the training program, a valedictory program took place. During the valedictory ceremony, Professor R. Venkata Rao, Vice Chancellor, NLSIU spoke on ‘Sports Ethics & Law’. Citing many previous instances of sportspersons upholding the true spirit of sports, he commented that such acts made these sportspersons immortal in the minds of the spectators. Certificates were handed over to all the participants for successful completion of the training program.
The Professional Certificate Course on Sports Law is the first of any such initiative in South Asia regarding sports law. As a representative of the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh in this prestigious training program, I had the chance to delve into the magnificent world of sports law and the various laws intricately connected and applicable to sports domain. The training has enabled me to tackle problems pertaining to sports law on a very practical level. As sports law jurisprudence develops gradually in Bangladesh, the takeaways from this training will undoubtedly help me in my legal career in near future.
Ali Mashraf is a third-year student at Department of Law, University of Dhaka and one of the participants at the Professional Certificate Course on Sports Law held at NLSIU, Bangalore.