Sailing Away from Judicial Interference: Arbitrating the America’s Cup
International Sports Law Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 27, 2006
28 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2011
Date Written: January 1, 2006
The America’s Cup is one of the most prestigious and oldest sports events in the world. The stakes involved are huge, be it only in financial terms. Moreover, it is organized in an almost entirely autonomous fashion, in the sense that the respective defender of the Cup (the sailing club that last won the Cup), along with its first challenger are almost completely free to organize the competition as they see fit, the only real constraint being a 150-years old two-pages document. The combination of this liberty and the stakes just mentioned lead, over the years, to a series of interesting adjustment as regards the way dispute arising in the context of the Cup are resolved. From long and bitter litigation in connection with Dennis Conner’s famous catamaran, the sailing community has learned the importance of providing for extra-judicial methods and bodies. These methods and bodies have, over the last editions of the America’s Cup, gradually evolved, thereby revealing likely strong points and pitfalls in the setting up of ad hoc dispute resolution.
This article first introduces the various documents and rules that govern the Cup. It then goes back over the court proceedings that sparked the intention to equip this sporting event with private dispute resolution mechanisms. Thereafter, it presents the three different dispute resolution bodies that accompanied the five last editions of the Cup. Finally, this article reviews the jurisprudence (13 arbitral awards so far) of the current edition of the Cup.
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