Thu, 18 Jul 2013
The High Court this week was the venue for a legal contest between the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe and the British Boxing Board of Control.
Philip Williams, a barrister and sports law expert from No5 Chambers, represented Bruce Baker, Chairman of the Professional Boxing Promoters Association (PBPA), who was in the corner of the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe in response to what he alleged was an attempt at restraint of trade on the part of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC).
The background to the case goes back to an incident on 18th February 2012 involving British boxers David Haye and Dereck Chisora at the Olympiahalle in Munich. Following a hearing on March 14, the British Boxing Board of Control withdrew Chisora’s licence. However, he was granted a licence by the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe, which sanctioned and thus allowed promotion of a fight between Chisora and former WBA champion Haye to be staged at Upton Park in England.
The British Boxing Board of Control objected to this but as far as Bruce Baker and members of the PBPA were concerned, the EU encouraged freedom of movement and trade among member states. Baker believed that there was no reason under the EU regime that he and other promoters should be prohibited from working with another European board so that he and his members could promote events in mainland Europe and the UK. He was therefore stunned when the BBBC threatened action against any fighters on the card for the Upton Park event and any promoters involved.
A writ was issued to stop the BBBC preventing the fight, which went ahead between Haye and Chisora in July 2012 and was billed as the International Fight of the Year by the WBO, with Haye emerging victorious. Nonetheless, the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe subsequently found itself expelled from the European Boxing Union (EBU) for what was, in its and Bruce Baker’s opinions, a cross-border dispute between it and the BBBC, while the EBU constitution had previously only considered expulsion on the ground of breach of sanctions.
A meeting was scheduled for September at which Bruce Baker hoped the BBBC would agree to drop any actions against promoters involved in the July event, support reinstatement of the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe to EBU membership and agree that BBBC fighters could box with Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe licences. He attended the meeting as a licence holder of the BBBC and also as a representative of the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe. Although there was no disciplinary action against any promoters or boxers involved with the Haye v Chisora event, Bruce Baker was left disappointed with the BBBC’s attitude to the Federation Luxembourgoise de Boxe and the agreement that was suggested.
However, what became clear was that the wording of the alleged agreement was subsequently changed at least twice but probably three times without recourse to Mr Baker, who was outraged at what he perceived to be the hypocrisy of the BBBC which issued new licences to Dereck Chisora and David Haye.
Mr Baker believed that the British Boxing Board of Control was trying to retain the position of the exclusive sanctioning body of boxing fights in the UK, contrary to the spirit and letter of EU law.
Philip Williams of No5 Chambers was instructed to represent Bruce Baker at the High Court by solicitor Scott Ewing. An application by the British Boxing Board of Control to strike out both Luxembourgoise de Boxe’s and Mr Baker’s claim, who were both represented by Mr Williams, failed on Monday in the High Court.
Mr Williams, a member of the Sports Law Group at No5 Chambers is respected for his wealth of sporting and litigation knowledge. He has appeared for clients before sporting tribunals including the Amateur Boxing Association, the British Boxing Board of Control and the British Horseracing Authority. Anyone wishing to know more about Philip Williams should visit http://www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/391-philip-williams/ while those wishing to know more about No5 Chambers should visit www.no5.com or telephone 0845 210 5555.