Samuel Pretscherer v Motorcycling Australia
The Respondent, Motorcycling Australia (MA) is the national governing body for the sport of motorcycling in Australia. The Applicant, Samuel Pretscherer is a motorcyclist and a member of MA. On 17 July 2022, the Applicant competed in an event organised by the Respondent, the 2022 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (the Event). During this Event, the Applicant saw another competitor fall, considered that he may be injured, and returned to the incident after riding a short distance to ask if help was needed. A spectator already assisting the fallen rider told the Applicant to get help. Following the completion of the Event, the Applicant applied to the Clerk of Course (CoC) to be recompensed for the time lost in stopping to offer assistance to the fallen competitor. The CoC amended the final placings, advancing the Applicant from 4th to 3rd place and ultimately demoting another rider to 4th place.
The rider demoted to 4th place lodged a protest with the Steward to appeal the decision of the CoC, the Steward did not conduct a hearing and dismissed the protest. The rider then lodged a Notice of Dispute with the Respondent in accordance with the MA Non-NIF Dispute and Complaint Resolution Policy (the Policy). The Complaints Manager of the Respondent determined that the most appropriate process to resolve the dispute was to conduct an Investigation, referring all findings to the MA Decision Maker, as defined under the Policy. The MA Decision Maker determined the CoC and Steward had erred in their application of the MA General Competition Rules and upheld the Notice of Dispute (the Decision).
As an interested Party to the Decision, the Applicant lodged an appeal for the matter to be heard before the National Sports Tribunal (NST).
The Tribunal addressed whether the dispute was appropriately managed by MA under the Policy, and analysed the validity of MA’s referral of the dispute to the General Division of the NST.
First, the Tribunal found the Complaints Manager’s decision to proceed with an investigation process under the Policy to be legally erroneous under the Policy and unreasonable. Moreover, as indicated by the Policy, the Tribunal found that only the 4th place rider, the Steward, or the CoC could express dissatisfaction with the Decision and request the matter be referred to a tribunal. To the Decision, the Applicant was merely an interested party. Therefore, the referral of the dispute to the NST pursuant to the Investigation & Decision process as outlined in the Policy was not validly made.
Nonetheless, the Tribunal’s jurisdiction was engaged by written agreement of the parties, captured in an arbitration agreement. In this agreement, the Parties sought for a determination to be made as to whether the Decision of the MA Decision Maker should stand. The Tribunal set aside the Decision, however, considering the scope of the agreement and the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, the Tribunal did not substitute its own decision for that of the MA Decision Maker.