SPORT DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTRE OF CANADA
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Frequently Asked Questions

The following set of questions and answers concerns the SDRCC dispute resolution services generally. If you are involved in a dispute and have questions that are specific to your situation, you may consult more questions and answers below, depending on the type of sport organization where the dispute arose.

  1. What types of disputes can be heard by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?
  2. What are the different steps of the processes before the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?
  3. What is the difference between resolution facilitation, mediation, med/arb and arbitration, and how do I choose between them?
  4. Can I be represented before the Dispute Resolution Secretariat? If so, who will pay the representation fees?
  5. What are the advantages of using the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat instead of the regular courts?
  6. Where does the resolution facilitation, mediation, med/arb or arbitration take place?
  7. What happens after an agreement has been signed or an arbitration decision has been rendered?
  8. What happens if a party fails to comply with the agreement or decision?

The following set of questions and answers concerns sports-related disputes that arise in a sport organization that receives federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada (generally referred to as "NSO"). For disputes involving sport organizations that do not receive such funding, please refer to the next set of questions and answers below.

  1. My NSO has made a decision that affects me and which I believe is unfair. Can the SDRCC help me?
  2. Who can use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?
  3. How much does it cost to use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, and what does it include?
  4. Other than the filing fee, how much could it cost me to engage in a mediation or arbitration process?

The following set of questions and answers concerns sports-related disputes that arise in a sport organization that does not receive federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada.

  1. My sport organization has made a decision that affects me and which I believe is unfair. Can the SDRCC help me?
  2. Who can use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?
  3. How much does it cost to use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, and what does it include?

1. What types of disputes can be heard by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?

The Dispute Resolution Secretariat can hear cases that concern a sports-related dispute. Although it can take different forms, a sports-related dispute is usually one that affects "participation" in a sport organization. If someone's participation in a sport organization as an athlete, a coach, an official, or a volunteer board or committee member is affected by a decision made by the sport organization, or by a person or committee acting on behalf of that sport organization, this could be a sports-related dispute. For example, the SDRCC often deals with issues such as:

  • Athlete selection to the national team program or for an international competition
  • Athlete Assistance Program funding
  • Disciplinary sanctions
  • Doping
  • Eligibility
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Interpretation of an agreement
  • Field of play decisions tainted by partiality or bias
  • Other decisions handed down by a sport organization that affects one of its members.

The Dispute Resolution Secretariat will not hear cases such as, among others, allegations of criminal acts or labour disputes, for which specialized courts of law or administrative tribunals already exist.

2. What are the different steps of the processes before the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?

A procedure before the SDRCC is initiated by the filing of a Request form by one or more of the parties involved in the dispute. Different forms exist depending on the nature of the dispute or the dispute resolution services sought (see next question). From the moment the Dispute Resolution Secretariat receives an admissible Request, there are essentially six (6) steps:

Step 1: Case Management by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat
Upon receipt of your Request, the Dispute Resolution Secretariat will open a case file in its Case Management Portal and will issue correspondence to all parties with instructions for next steps.

Step 2: Administrative Meeting
The Dispute Resolution Secretariat will convene parties to a conference call to discuss the administrative process to be followed to resolve the dispute and to answer questions from parties about the services available.

Step 3: Resolution Facilitation (mandatory only in arbitration cases)
Barring exceptional circumstances, parties requesting an arbitration hearing must first participate in an informal resolution facilitation session. This meeting will allow the parties to express their understanding of the conflict, to clarify the issues and to explore possible paths towards a solution in order to avoid, if possible, having to participate in an arbitration hearing.

Step 4: Preliminary Meeting
Regardless of the dispute resolution process chosen, the mediator and/or the arbitrator will convene parties to a conference call to discuss the procedural aspects of the proceedings to unfold, answer questions from the parties about the procedures, or address any preliminary issues needing attention before the mediation session or arbitration hearing.

Step 5: The mediation session and/or arbitration hearing
Depending on the resolution method (whether mediation, med/arb or arbitration), the parties meet with the mediator and/or arbitrator. Each party presents its position and discusses the contentious issues. The mediator will guide them toward a mutually satisfactory solution; the arbitrator will hear their evidence (including witnesses, if any) and arguments and can ask them questions to gain a full understanding of all the issues underlying the dispute.

Step 6: Agreement or decision
If a settlement is reached during mediation, the mediator can assist parties in putting in writing any agreement reached and signing it. After an arbitration hearing, the arbitrator will write a reasoned decision that will be final and binding upon the parties.

 

3. What is the difference between resolution facilitation, mediation, med/arb and arbitration, and how do I choose between them?

Resolution Facilitation is the least formal process and is intended to help parties communicate more effectively, better understand their options, and agree on the real issues at stake. In some cases, the resolution facilitation will lead to a settlement, but it is not the primary goal.

Mediation is where a professional and neutral third party helps the parties find a solution together. The mediator does not render a decision. If parties cannot agree, mediation may be abandoned without a resolution.

Med/Arb is a dispute resolution process that combines mediation and arbitration. Initially, the parties try to reach a settlement through mediation. If there are issues that are not resolved through mediation, an arbitrator (the same person who acted as mediator) makes a decision for the parties.

Arbitration uses a neutral third party who hears evidence and decides how the dispute should be resolved. Unlike mediation, this approach will bring closure to the dispute, but the outcome will likely be a win-lose scenario. Whether the parties agree with it or not, the arbitrator's decision is final and binding.

 

4. Can I be represented before the Dispute Resolution Secretariat? If so, who will pay the representation fees?

Although it is not mandatory, you do have the right to be represented or accompanied by a person of your choice (parents, coaches, friends, guardians, teammates, lawyers, etc.) during a resolution facilitation, a mediation, a med/arb or an arbitration process. Representation fees, if any, must be paid by the party concerned, not by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat. For those who cannot afford legal fees, the SDRCC makes available a list of pro bono lawyers from which parties can seek assistance.

You must also keep in mind that SDRCC rules allow for parties to request costs and, under certain circumstances, the arbitrator has the authority to compel a party to reimburse fees and expenses incurred by another party.

 

5. What are the advantages of using the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat instead of the regular courts?

The main advantages are as follows:
  • The Secretariat specializes in Canadian sport disputes;
  • Its services are simple to use;
  • Its services are fast;
  • Its services are inexpensive;
  • Its procedures are flexible and geared toward the parties' needs.

 

6. Where does the resolution facilitation, mediation, med/arb or arbitration take place?

In the vast majority of cases, resolution facilitation sessions take place by conference call. A mediation session or arbitration hearing can be held in person, by videoconference, by conference call, or any combination of these formats. In certain circumstances and when the arbitrator deems it appropriate, a hearing can take the form of a documentary review. Parties are invited to agree on the format of proceedings. However, if unable to agree, the default format is by conference call unless the mediator or arbitrator deems it necessary to use a different format.

 

7. What happens after an agreement has been signed or an arbitration decision has been rendered?

The parties must comply with the agreement or the decision, because they undertook to do so by agreeing to resolution facilitation, mediation, med/arb or arbitration before the Dispute Resolution Secretariat. 

In certain doping cases only, parties do have a right to appeal a decision.

 

8. What happens if a party fails to comply with the agreement or decision?

If one of the parties fails to comply with the agreement or decision, the injured party can always ask a court to confirm (ratify) it. When the court confirms (ratifies) the agreement or decision, it becomes enforceable, just as if it had been handed down by the court itself. In short, the injured party can go through the court system to make the offending party comply with the agreement or decision.

 

The following set of questions and answers concerns sports-related disputes that arise in a sport organization that receives federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada (generally referred to as "NSO"). For disputes involving sport organizations that do not receive such funding, please refer to the next set of questions below.

 

9. My NSO has made a decision that affects me and which I believe is unfair. Can the SDRCC help me?

When the NSO receives federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada, the SDRCC can only accept to hear disputes for which the internal dispute resolution mechanisms of the NSO have been exhausted. You will have exhausted your NSO internal dispute resolution mechanisms if you have duly filed a notice of appeal and: a) a decision was rendered on the matter, b) your NSO refused to conduct an appeal process, c) your NSO failed to follow its dispute resolution or appeal policy in dealing with your appeal, or d) your NSO appeal process is taking so long as to cause a prejudice to you. Alternatively, in certain specific circumstances, you and your NSO may agree to forego its internal dispute resolution process and submit your dispute directly to the SDRCC.

 

10. Who can use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?

If you are an athlete or a coach involved (or seeking to be involved) with a national team program of an NSO receiving federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada, you can access the Dispute Resolution Secretariat services. Other members of the Canadian sport community who are involved in a sports-related dispute with their NSO are invited to consult their NSO's dispute resolution policies to verify that their dispute is admissible to the SDRCC appeal process.

 

11. How much does it cost to use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, and what does it include?

When the NSO receives federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada, resolution facilitation services are free of charge. In order to request mediation, med/arb or arbitration services, a non-reimbursable filing fee of CAN$500 is required. This cost is borne by the person or organization filing the request, unless it otherwise agreed by parties to share the cost. All other costs related to the process are covered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, including telephone and mailing costs, arbitrator/mediator fees and expenses, secretariat personnel salaries, as well as, if required, facilities rental and translation/interpretation services.

 

12. Other than the filing fee, how much could it cost me to engage in a mediation or arbitration process?

When the NSO receives federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada, in order to get a good estimate of the costs that you may incur, you must consider whether you want to hire a legal representative, if you will be required to travel to attend a hearing in person, whether you will have to cover the travel expenses of any witnesses you wish to call during the hearing, etc.

You must also keep in mind that SDRCC rules allow for parties to request costs and, under certain circumstances, the arbitrator has the authority to compel a party to reimburse fees and expenses incurred by another party.

 


The following set of questions and answers concerns sports-related disputes that arise in a sport organization that does not receive federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada.

 

13. My sport organization has made a decision that affects me and which I believe is unfair. Can the SDRCC help me?

Disputes arising out of decisions made by sport organizations at the international, provincial or territorial, municipal and local levels generally fall outside the jurisdiction of the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, unless there exists an agreement between the parties to use the Dispute Resolution Secretariat services. Such agreement can be in the form of a policy, a contract clause or a standalone agreement.

In some instances, the Dispute Resolution Secretariat may assist the parties in offering a faster and less expensive alternative to the court systems. If your sport organization does not receive federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada and you have agreed to submit your dispute to the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, or are considering to do so, please consult the answer to question #15 below or contact the SDRCC for more information on the costs of such services.

 

14. Who can use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat?

Whether you are an athlete, a coach, an official, a volunteer, or a Board or committee member or other type of member of a sport organization in Canada, you may have access to the Dispute Resolution Secretariat services. If you are involved in a sports-related dispute with your sport organization, or if you are denied membership in such organization, you are invited to contact the SDRCC for more information on how to access the Dispute Resolution Secretariat services.

 

15. How much does it cost to use the services offered by the Dispute Resolution Secretariat, and what does it include?

If the sport organization does not receive federal funding under the Sport Support Program of Sport Canada, all costs related to the dispute resolution process are charged to the parties, including telephone and mailing costs, arbitrator/mediator fees and expenses, Dispute Resolution Secretariat personnel salaries, as well as, if required, facilities rental and translation/interpretation services.

On average, those costs amount to just over CAN$6,000 per case, but depending on the nature and complexity of the issues and the type of resolution method used, they can range anywhere from CAN$2,000$ to as much as CAN$20,000. The agreement to use the Dispute Resolution Secretariat services of the SDRCC must specify which party(ies) will be responsible for the above costs. A deposit is required before a case can be opened. In order to obtain a more precise estimate for your particular case, please contact the Dispute Resolution Secretariat.

Over and above these costs, you must consider whether you want to hire a legal representative, if you will be required to travel to attend a hearing in person, whether you will have to cover the travel expenses of any witnesses you wish to call during the hearing, etc. You must also keep in mind that SDRCC rules allow for parties to request costs and, under certain circumstances, the arbitrator has the authority to compel a party to reimburse fees and expenses incurred by another party.

 

For any other questions or comments, please contact us.