VIC Sport Tribunal denied witnesses of Defence

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john Q

15 February 2015
Hi all. I have recently been suspended from a sporting competition for 3 seasons.
There was an investigation of conducted by the Association and I was found guilty of "acting in a way that may bring the game into disrepute" by way of making physical contact with another player.

I have denied these charges. I then requested a tribunal hearing. At the hearing, I plead not guilty to the charges. After hearing the witnesses of the prosecution, I gave my version of events and said "I can call a witness to verify my story".

The chairman of the tribunal then replied "no, don't worry about it" and adjourned to make a decision. I was suspended for 3 years.

I was told that there would be a transcript of the tribunal hearing made available to me within the 48 hr period I had to appeal the decision of the Tribunal. The Association has so far refused to send the transcripts.

It has been 10 days, I have not yet received the transcripts after 3 requests were made, and I have been told the matter is now closed as I have lost my chance to appeal because I did not forward $300 to the association within 48 hrs. I have now have another avenue of appeal to the sports governing body in Victoria, however, I still don't have the transcripts. I have also asked them to detail exactly how I made contact so I can use it for an appeal to a higher body and they have refused to tell me.

My questions are:
a) does this constitute a breach of procedural fairness because I was not able to call witnesses in my defence
b) Are they required to tell me exactly how i made contact in order for me make a proper appeal?
c) would I be able to take this case to VCAT?
d) would I win?


Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
A tribunal is not expected to act as a court of law and is not required to follow any legal process, aside from that outlined in the club’s constitution or by-laws. You will need to read the Association tribunal's By-Laws. You will find a lot of them contain something similar to this from Basketball Victoria's By-Laws 28. Natural Justice 28.1 To the extent that the principles of natural justice are not included in the provisions set out in these By-laws they are expressly excluded.
a) No due to above
b) They don't have to go into specifics as to how the contact occurred - just that it was made.
c & d) What if someone isn’t happy with the outcome from a tribunal?

The tribunal’s decision is final, at least as far as the club’s processes are concerned. Some sports’ state/territory or national governing bodies have processes in place to deal with appeals against club decisions.

Also, your state or territory may provide a confidential and impartial mediation and dispute resolution service for the sporting community (e.g. South Australian State Sport Dispute Centre).

If anyone involved in the dispute wishes to fight the penalty imposed, they may take the matter to a court of law. However, Australian law courts are unlikely to intervene, except when:

  • the tribunal’s decision affects an individual’s ability to earn an income or there is a loss of livelihood;
  • the club or organisation has failed to comply with its own rules or has interpreted them incorrectly;
  • the tribunal acted outside its powers.
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john Q

15 February 2015
Thanks for your advice Ponala. i have checked the constitution and rules of the association and I have found the below

The purposes of the Association are: 1. To establish and maintain an association for cricket, social and other sporting and ancillary and associated purposes. 2. To conduct, complete and participate in, foster, promote and encourage all forms of the sport of cricket and ancillary and associated activities. Solely for the purpose of furthering the said purposes the Association shall, subject only to restrictions or limitations imposed by the Associations Incorporation Act 1981, Regulations thereunder and the Rules of the Association, have power to: (a) Take over the funds and other assets and liabilities of the unincorporated association known as *********** and indemnify any person for loss or damage incurred as a result of having on behalf of the unincorporated association become liable to pay any amount by way of damages or otherwise. (b) Subscribe to, join or co-operate with any association or organisation, incorporated or not, or amalgamate with any incorporated association with objects wholly or partly similar to those of the Association provided that it shall not subscribe to or support with its funds or transfer any of its property or assets to an association or organisation which does not prohibit the distribution of its income and property among its members to an extent at least as great as that imposed on the Association by its Rules. (c) Do all things which an incorporated association is permitted or authorised to do pursuant to the said Act. (d) Do all things which a natural person may lawfully do

2. INTERPRETATION In these Rules, unless the contrary intention appears: ‘Act’ means the Associations Incorporation Act 1981, and includes regulations thereunder

Section 14B of the of the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 No. 9713 of 1981 says :
14B Grievance procedure

s. 14B

(1) The rules of an incorporated association must set out a grievance procedure for dealing with any dispute under the rules between—

(a) a member and another member; or

(b) a member and the incorporated association.

(2) A member may appoint any person to act on behalf of the member in the grievance procedure.

(3) The grievance procedure must allow for natural justice to be applied.

In the Rules for the Tribunal hearings the Administration rules for the Association says
" The accused my make a statement, and call witnesses in support of his statement"

As I was not allowed to call a witness.

My question is : a) Although a sports tribunal is not a court of law, do they not have to adhere to the rules set out by the Associations Act re: 14B for grievances procedures, and do they not have to abide by their own rules under their Tribunal Hearing Rules?
b) do you believe I was denied "natural justice " as under the act?
c) do you believe I could now take this VCAT as the competiton has acted outside its own rules?


LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
27 May 2014
a) Yes. Getting to adhere to the rules is your problem.
b) Yes, but I'm not a lawyer :)
c) Yes. Call them and they will advise you on what to do to start a case.