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Sports law has become established as a specialised area of legal interest. Sport generates substantial economic activity and in prominent ways is woven through the social fabric. This subject is based on the premise that scholars, lawyers and those responsible for the governance of sport must be equipped with the means to understand and evaluate the law which regulates the important and vibrant activity that is sport.
As both a traditional pursuit and an industry of the modern age, sport intersects with law in many different ways, some of which challenge established legal rules and notions of thinking about law. This subject concentrates attention on the circumstances productive of such challenges and explores the reasons for special or unique treatment of sport by the law.
High levels of public engagement with sport can sometimes serve to position sport as an agent of legal change and as an effective means of transmitting legal knowledge and values. Legal practitioners and scholars need to be alert to these processes even if they do not claim a specialised involvement in sports law. Sports law also provides an important connection between scholarship and legal practice because sport is an activity that presents law in applied and instructive settings.
Study of this different and challenging field will enable legal practitioners and scholars:
- To obtain advanced knowledge of an area of the law having special application to a significant economic and social activity;
- To understand the reasons and justifications for the different legal treatment of sport and to critically evaluate the worth of such justifications; and
- To develop practical understanding and professional skills from exposure to the ways in which law may be applied to a field of activity or an industry.
The principal topics that will be addressed in this subject will be:
- The legal structure and governance of the sporting movement, especially international organisations;
- Common forms of player employment contracts and team member agreements in use in Australia;
- The legal status and significance of the rules of play;
- Criminal and civil liability for sports injuries including participant to participant responsibility and vicarious liability of employer clubs;
- Anti-doping with particular reference to the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport, the World Anti-Doping Code, the structure and functions of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the National Anti-Doping Scheme and illicit drugs policies;
- Anti-match-fixing laws with particular reference to sporting integrity units;
- Selected legal topics in sports broadcasting and sports marketing including athlete personality rights, the legal status of major sports events and the control of unauthorised broadcasts; and
- The lawfulness of labour market rules (eg, transfer rules, drafts and salary caps) under pro-competition laws including the common law doctrine of restraint of trade and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) Part IV.
Intended learning outcomes
A candidate who has successfully completed this subject will demonstrate:
- An appreciation of the role of law in Australian and international sport;
- A sophisticated understanding of the law applying to sport under each of the principal topics;
- The capacity to critically and independently evaluate that law and be able to engage in informed debate over its sufficiency to serve the interests of key stakeholders in sport; and
- Through the assessment involving examination, the ability to identify and resolve theoretical and practical problems concerning the application of law to sporting activity.
On successful completion of the subject, students will have developed their skills in the following areas:
- Specialist understanding, interpretation, critical evaluation and synthesis of case law, statutory laws and regulatory instruments in Australia and internationally pertaining to sport;
- Investigating a research question relevant to this complex field, creatively carrying out research involving diverse sources and preparing a piece of legal writing displaying sophisticated analysis, synthesis and theoretical understanding; and
- Identifying and resolving theoretical and practical problems concerning the application of law to sporting activity in a manner that displays professional judgment.
Last updated: 2 December 2019