William Wallace executive withdraws appeal from CAS, to take dispute with FIFA to TT High Court

By May 18, 2020

Citing concern over the perception of bias in favour of FIFA, William Wallace and his ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have withdrawn their appeal currently before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Describing the situation as a fight against injustice, Wallace said they will now take the dispute to the Trinidad and Tobago High Court.

Lawyers representing the ousted executive filed their notice of withdrawal to CAS on Monday.

Wallace was seeking CAS to overturn a decision by FIFA to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the association until new elections can be held.

Wallace and his executive were constitutionally elected in November 2019, but FIFA, citing the lack of proper financial controls within the heavily indebted association, took the decision to intervene four months after the elections were held.

This, despite the fact that the bulk of the debt was accumulated under the previous administration led by David John-Williams.

However, in light of recent developments at CAS, the ousted executive feel they would be unable to get a fair shake before CAS.

“Indeed, the CAS cannot be said to be a free, fair and impartial forum if sporting bodies like the Respondent, with deep pockets and even deeper agendas, can unilaterally seek to impose the CAS as a forum for the resolution of disputes while simultaneously – and quite unconscionably – refusing to pay its share of the arbitration costs. Arbitration costs which are themselves disproportionately high to the ordinary litigant,” the lawyers said.

“In sum, the CAS has demonstrated that it not a proper forum for the adjudication of this matter. It has demonstrated apparent institutional bias in the familiarity and latitude shown to the Respondent.

Our clients have therefore instructed us to withdraw the appeal with immediate effect.”

In early May, the lawyers wrote to CAS expressing concerns over hiked costs - US$41,000 - that Wallace and his executive were being compelled to pay in advance of the tribunal hearing while at the same time declaring that FIFA will not pay arbitration costs in advance in matters such as these.

The costs were especially high, considering that the hearing would have likely taken place by video conference thus eliminating usual travel costs of the panel and the CAS’ counsel.

“To that end, we are genuinely unsure how the CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees. The Appellants are not from the developed world, nor are they as well-financed as the Respondent,” Dr Emir Crowne wrote to CAS.

The lawyers also argued that the matter was made even more alarming since the tribunal accepted without question FIFA’s submission that they wanted the matter heard by three arbitrators, thus tripling the associated costs.

“On its face, therefore, the CAS appears to be a willing participant in the Respondent’s gamesmanship, especially if the CAS had institutional knowledge that the Respondent – an entity with immeasurable financial resources – would not be advancing their share of the arbitration costs,” the lawyers said.

CAS’ subsequent response further rankled the lawyers while cementing their fears that they would not be able to have a fair hearing.

“Your response further solidified our clients’ concerns about the apparent institutional bias of the CAS,” said the lawyers in their letter to CAS on Monday.

They made reference to correspondence from CAS that said, “The Respondent is, however, invited to inform the CAS Court Office by 11 May 2020 whether it intends to pay its share of the advance of costs in this specific procedure. In case the Respondent refuses to pay such share, Article R64.2 of the Code shall apply and the CAS Finance Director's letter dated April 30, 2020, will be fully confirmed.”

FIFA, they said, then promptly informed the CAS on May 11, 2020, that it “will not pay its share of the advance of costs in this specific procedure.”

“If the CAS had genuinely rejected our clients’ concern of apparent institutional bias, it is unclear why the CAS would – subsequent to our letter – extend such an invitation to the Respondent at all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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