Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland has been established by the Federation of Irish Sport (“the Federation”) in response to the increasing prevalence of sporting litigation and the recognition, as endorsed by the High Court, that the courts are not the appropriate forum for the resolution of such disputes. SDSI is an independent specialised dispute resolution service for Irish Sport offering both a mediation and arbitration facility.

The Federation commends the rules of Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland to all national governing bodies of sport in Ireland and their members as a fair, inexpensive and expeditious method of resolving disputes that remain unresolved after all the procedures all owed for within the sport have been exhausted. In particular, the Federation urges parties to disputes to avail of the SDSI mediation procedure to avoid more confrontational or costly methods to resolve disagreements, conflicts or disputes with sport.

The Irish Sports Council has indicated that they ‘will require all sports to be signed up to a dispute resolution mechanism. It aims to complete this process within this strategic period (i.e. by end 2014)’ and they ‘will work with the Federation of Irish Sport to further develop Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland as the preferred approach to dispute resolution.

It is a principal aim of SDSI that the mediation and arbitration processes offered by it will be cost-effective. We recognise that resources for many sports organisations and amateur athletes are scare. SDSI therefore seeks to provide a more favourable alternative to pursuing what can be an expensive, protracted High Court action with all the potential for adverse publicity and damaging relations, such an action can entail, largely avoided.

SDSI has been designed so that the parties need not be represented by lawyers, whether they are a sporting body, a national governing body or an athlete. Parties may of course choose to employ legal representation. The Bar Council of Ireland is encouraging and supporting the involvement of qualified members of the Bar to act as advocates on a pro bono basis to represent parties, be they athletes or governing bodies, who are without the resources to afford legal representation and where such representation may be necessary. Further information on this scheme can be obtained by clicking on the link below – pro bono scheme

Arbitral awards handed down by SDSI are final, binding and enforceable in favour of and/or against the parties. The only instance in which an appeal against an arbitral award can be made is where the rules of a sporting organisation make provision for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) in Lausanne.

Proceedings shall be fair and expeditious. All arbitrators and/or mediators serving of the JSI Arbitration and Mediation Panels are entirely independent, all are accredited arbitrator/mediators and have some interest in sport. The nature of sporting disputes are such that they generally need to be resolved quickly with a decision often required to determine for example, the ability of an athlete to participle in the next event which may only be days away. JSI will endeavour to facilitate all such situations so that a resolution can be arrived at in a matter of hours/days where required.

SDSI is a company limited by guarantee without a share capital registered in Ireland under company number 431644. Please click on the relevant link to find a full list of the directors of SDSI.

“Sports organisations do best to resolve differences under their own governing codes, rather than recourse to the courts of law. Issues of natural justice are important but the substance of matters rather than their form are important in seeking to resolve internal disputes in such organisations and recourse to the courts should be a last resort, and only in the rarest of cases.”

Smyth.J, Kieran Gould V. Michael Sweeney & Others, High Court, 23rd January 2007