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Sports Disputes Tribunal Chair Announced

For immediate release

Media Release

Sports Disputes Tribunal Chair Announced

Rt Hon E W (Ted) Thomas DCNZM QC has been appointed chair of the Sports Disputes Tribunal being set up by SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand).

Before resigning from the Court of Appeal in 2001 Mr Thomas spent 22 years as a partner for Russell McVeagh and was a Queen's Counsel for 10 years. He was appointed to the High Court in 1990 and the Court of Appeal in 1995. An active sportsperson in his youth Mr Thomas maintains a strong interest in sport. He was awarded the Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002 for services as a Judge of the Court of Appeal.

SPARC Chairman John Wells said "we are delighted to have someone the calibre of Ted Thomas chairing the Sports Disputes Tribunal".

SPARC, as a Crown Entity and the central point of contact for sport in New Zealand is the appropriate body and has the expertise to ensure the Tribunal is established and run independently and its services implemented and operated effectively.

"The need for a specialist Sports Tribunal was confirmed in a review commissioned late last year by SPARC's Transition Board and SPARC is now working to have the Tribunal up and running by March 2003" said Mr Wells.

"The view is not so much the number of cases, but the nature of cases in dispute and the fact they are perceived to be handled poorly and so are damaging to the interests of sport generally. As the government arm of sport in New Zealand SPARC has to be seen to handle its disputes with integrity and credibility."

The aim of the Tribunal is to provide an independent forum for sportspeople to resolve disputes. On average there are about 46 disputes/cases each year at national level involving doping (about 10-15 annually), selection, harassment, misconduct on and off the field, disputes about the rules of a sporting competition, and disputes about contracts, constitutions and other matters.

In addition to the chairperson the tribunal will have a panel of six. Two of the panel members will be barristers or solicitors while the remaining four members will have substantial experience in sport over a period of at least 10 years. The experience may be in any capacity, either as an athlete, coach, administrator or participant.


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