SPORT DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTRE OF CANADA
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Sport Law Connect Program

 

Context

Sports-related disputes at the provincial/territorial or club level can place quite a strain on sport administrators and volunteers who possess no legal training. Although these organizations may access the Centre’s dispute resolution services on a fee-for-service basis, their resources are often limited, lacking the capacity to handle disputes, hearings and appeals independently.

 

Program Overview

To mitigate this situation and to foster the development of a new generation of sport mediators and arbitrators in Canada, the Centre has created the Sport Law Connect Program (SLCP) which enlists students from Canadian law faculties and/or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs, so that they may serve as dispute resolution resources for the broader Canadian sport community.

Program participants will enroll to assist sport organizations and their members in dealing with sports-related disputes on a volunteer basis, either by using their facilitation skills to informally facilitate the resolution of such disputes or by acting as members or chairpersons of disciplinary or appeal panels. Minimum qualifications, a strict set of guidelines and policies govern the administration of the program to ensure quality control.

Training and orientation is delivered to participants directly by the Centre in the form of seminars to complement their academic programming, allowing them to handle sports-related cases including, but not limited to, disciplinary issues, team selection, resource allocation (e.g. funding, facility sharing), governance, policy application, field-of-play protests, etc. Where a pool of interested students is in place in a given province/territory, a multisport organization is designated to serve as the clearinghouse for all requests from that region.

 

Official Launch

The SLCP was launched in British Columbia as a pilot project in January 2019, in partnership with viaSport BC, the ADR Institute of BC (ADRBC), and law students from the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria. The Centre has already initiated discussions in parallel with potential partners in other provinces/territories.

 

Who can benefit?

Law Students

Law students with an interest in sport law are able to apply their legal knowledge in the context of sport as facilitators or members of a three-person panel. Where an equivalent course covering facilitation or appeals was not yet completed as part of their university curriculum, students will be trained directly by the SDRCC.

Q.Med and Q.Arb members

These SLCP participants have the opportunity to gain practical experience towards obtaining their C.Med and C.Arb certifications. By acting as a facilitator, sole adjudicator or member or chairperson on a three-person panel, Q.Med and Q.Arb members involved in the SLCP have the unique opportunity to hone their skills by directly applying their knowledge in a sports-related setting.

Potential mentorship opportunities with trained and certified mediators and arbitrators may also become available to the above SLCP participants. The program also allows participants to expand their network with local sport organizations while benefiting from training and continuing education opportunities on sport ADR, as well as relevant experience for résumé-building.

Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs)

PTSOs will benefit from this affordable service, giving them access to individuals who are trained in ADR to help resolve some of the disputes that may arise within their organizations. The SLCP will help to relieve some of the pressure PSO staff and volunteers face when disputes arise, further increasing the Canadian sport community’s access to ADR.