AREAS OF EXPERTISE:
Steven is a leading sports law specialist who has built up a great deal of experience working across the gamut of sports law. He frequently advises various participants including professional athletes, teams, governing bodies, agents, and players’ associations on contractual, commercial and regulatory matters.
During this Covid-19 crisis, Steven has been heavily involved in advising players, clubs and governing bodies on contractual and regulatory issues, as well as assisting them to bring and defend proceedings. Some of the work he has undertaken includes:
Given Steven’s employment, commercial and regulatory background, he is incredibly well positioned to advise on problems faced by sports arising from the global pandemic, as well as the issues that will arise in its aftermath.
Away from the sports sector, Steven’s practice is directed towards business protection. He is regularly instructed to deal with issues arising from employment contracts, breach of confidence, partnerships, restrictive covenants, and shareholder rights/obligations.
Steven has a wealth of experience in arbitration and has been admitted as a Member of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He accepts appointments to sit as a sole arbitrator or as a member of a panel (including as chair).
Year of Call: 2006
Steven has particular experience in arbitrations in the sports sector including:
Steven also accepts appointments in cases that involve the following issues:
Steven is regularly instructed by banks and other companies operating within the financial services sphere to assist in disputes involving issues of guarantees, mortgages, cheques, mistaken payments, negligent advice, undue influence and restitutionary claims. He also has considerable experience in dealing with disputes arising from consumer credit and leasing agreements.
Steven has also been involved in a number of cases that have involved whistleblowing allegations of market manipulation and insider trading.
Examples of recent cases include:
Steven’s practice is directed towards business protection, with particular experience in dealing with issues arising from employment contracts; breach of confidence; partnerships; restrictive covenants; and shareholder rights/obligations. He is regularly instructed by both national and international companies including banks, airlines, construction companies, car manufacturers and those within the financial services industry. Steven also represents directors, company secretaries, office holders and shareholders, as well as individuals in disputes with corporate bodies and other individuals.
A summary of recent work can be found below:
Directors’ Contracts & Duties
Steven represents directors and companies in matters relating to bonuses; breach of fiduciary duties; claw-backs; misuse of confidential information; removal; and restrictive covenants. Due to Steven’s strong employment law background, he is also regularly instructed to represent both companies and individuals in contractual negotiations.
Examples of recent work include:
Steven has considerable experience in dealing with cases involving the drafting and enforcement of restrictive covenants. He is often instructed to seek/resist injunctions and damages in both the High Court, as well as being instructed to provide advice during mediation.
Steven regularly advises individuals and companies on the rights, roles and duties of shareholders. This includes both contentious and non-contentious issues such as share sale agreements, minority shareholder’s rights and unfair prejudice petitions.
Examples of recent work include:
Partnerships & LLPs
Steven has considerable experience in advising on the establishment and dissolution of partnerships and LLPs. He is often instructed to advise partners on their legal obligations and, when necessary, to assist them in disputes arising from said partnerships. Steven is also one of a limited number of practitioners who has experience of representing partners and LLP members in claims alleging discrimination against the partnership.
Sale of Goods/Supply of Goods and Services
Steven is regularly instructed by both Claimants and Defendants in actions involving the sale of goods and/or the supply of goods and services. These cases range from the sale of horses to disputes relating to the supply and carriage of large quantities of steel to Asia; many of which are in the High Court. He also has experience in assisting in the recovery of possessions that have been the subject of conversion.
Steven’s Employment law practice involves him advising employers and employees at all stages from contractual negotiations through to final hearing, and if necessary, to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Steven is frequently instructed in cases that involve issues of discrimination, TUPE, restrictive covenants, whistleblowing and unfair dismissal. Many of his cases are of a high value (£250k+). He regularly acts on behalf of national and international companies; local authorities; and government agencies, as well as trade unions and their members. He has experience of dealing with matters both within the Employment Tribunal system and the High/County Court.
Steven has particular interest in the following areas:
Steven is also regularly instructed by Local Authorities and companies to assist in the drafting of their policies. These have included redundancy policies; agency worker policies; and employee shareholder schemes.Steven has experience in cases involving financial services misconduct (insider trading, market manipulation etc.); blacklisting; and cases involving a jurisdictional element (e.g. whether the Employment Tribunal/British Courts have jurisdiction to hear a case). He also has a growing appellate practice and is regularly instructed to advise and appear in cases before the Employment Appeal Tribunal and, on occasion, the Court of Appeal.
Some examples of his work in different areas can be found below.
Contracts and Exit Agreements
High Court/County Court
Trade Union Membership/Collective Rights
EAD Solicitors -v- Abrams (2015) I.R.L.R. 978: Acting for the successful claimant where Langstaff P held, in the first judgment of its type, that companies can bring claims for discrimination. This decision has been widely reported as ground-breaking as it opens up the possibility of direct and indirect discrimination claims being brought across a number of practice areas.
Old -v- Palace Fields Primary Academy (2015) EMPLR 018: The appellant was a teacher who was dismissed for gross misconduct for her actions following an incident of bullying in which a pupil had written offensive remarks on the picture of a classmate. The appeal related to procedural irregularity and was successful. The case has been cited in the IDS Employment Law Handbooks on the issues of conduct and fees. The case is important as it deals with the width of the EAT’s discretion on the issue of fees.
Graham Hennis -v- Oldham MBC: A claim of unfair dismissal by a social worker who had been dismissed after being accused of neglecting a service user before he committed suicide. The case centred on Oldham’s policy and procedures relating to the allocation of cases. The case lasted three days after which the claimant was found to have been unfairly dismissed. The judgment was a damning assessment of procedure followed by Oldham and was widely reported.
Steven is recognised as a leading sports lawyer, dealing with contractual/commercial disputes in this sector, as well as disciplinary and regulatory issues. He is noted as having ‘best knowledge of on-field disciplinary work and [as] a go-to in this area’ (Chambers 2020) and for his ‘niche experience of handling employment disputes within the professional sports world’ (Legal 500 2019). He regularly appears on his own against QCs, or leading a multi-disciplinary team in complex disputes.
Steven is regularly instructed by players, clubs, agents, governing bodies, players’ unions, fans and sponsors across a wide variety of sports including football, rugby union and league, boxing, tennis and golf. He has advised at all levels of sport and has acted for and against many high profile participants and organisations including matters involving: the FA; the RFU; the Premier League; Manchester United FC; Manchester City FC; Chelsea FC; Swansea City AFC; the LTA; Rotherham Titans RFC; Bradford Bulls RLFC; Toronto Wolfpack RLFC; Chester Racecourse; Archery GB; the PFA; the RLPA; the FSF; and many others. He has also been instructed by high profile companies who wish to enter into commercial rights/sponsorship agreements with such organisations.
In addition to dealing with commercial and regulatory matters, Steven is also regularly instructed in cases relating to discrimination in sport. He has experience in advising on the rights and obligations imposed on players, clubs and governing bodies by the Equality Act 2010 including appearing in a trial due to last 6 weeks where a participant claimed £120 million from a governing body.
Steven’s work also involves him representing participants before disciplinary and appeals panels, as well in court and at arbitration. This includes Rule K arbitrations, the EFL Player Related Dispute Commission, the British Boxing Board of Control Regulation 24 arbitration and before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Steven has been appointed by British Gymnastics, British Cycling and England Boxing to hear disciplinary/appeals panels.
Reflective of his experience and expertise in the sector, Steven has been appointed a Visiting Sports Law Fellow at the Centre for Sports Law Research at Edge Hill University and is regularly invited to lecture on sports law LLMs at a variety of universities.
A summary of his work in different areas can be found below:
Steven is regularly instructed by sports agents who seek his assistance in the drafting of agency agreements so as to adequately protect their interests. He also advises participants as to the legal implications of any agency agreement that they are planning to enter and represents both agents and participants in breach of contract/unpaid fee disputes. He has recently:
Anti-Doping & Mechanical Doping
Steven is instructed by governing bodies, clubs and participants to assist in relation to anti-doping matters. This includes investigations, internal disciplinary proceedings and hearings before the National Anti-Doping Panel.
Steven also has experience of dealing with mechanical/electronic doping in cycling, having represented a cyclist who was accused of manipulating data to improve his access enhanced eRacing equipment.
Recent cases include:
Disciplinary and other internal proceedings
As well as representing clubs and participants who were subject to disciplinary action before the RFU, FA, RFL and PGA, Steven has also sat as a disciplinary officer for British Gymnastics, British Cycling and England Boxing. He has also represented participants seeking to overturn disciplinary sanctions through Rule K arbitration. Recent cases include:
Discrimination in Sport
Steven has a great deal of experience of cases involving discrimination in a sporting context. He represents participants at all levels, from those who are attending their first coaching session through to elite athletes who have suffered loss of funding or career damage because of discrimination. He also advises service providers (e.g. clubs, governing bodies, venues) as to their duties under the Equality Act 2010. Examples of his work include:
Player/Participants Contracts and Transfers
Agents, players and clubs regularly instruct Steven to consider issues surrounding employment/funding contracts. He also provides guidance on legal issues that arise during transfers and representation in breach of contract claims. Some of his recent cases include:
Sale and Purchase of Clubs/Sporting Venues
Given Steven’s commercial law background and sports sector experience, he is positioned to advise on issues relating to the sale and purchase of sports clubs and venues. His work has included drafting an agreement for use in a £100 million deal. Some of the work he has done includes:
Steven has a particular interest in sponsorship and image rights agreements. He has been instructed by numerous agents, clubs, participants and sponsors to assist with the negotiating and drafting of such agreements and advise and represent them when such agreements breakdown. Recent examples of his work in this area include:
Steven also offers his service as an arbitrator in sporting disputes. This includes both sitting as a sole arbitrator or as a member of a panel. Steven has particular experience in arbitrations that involve contractual and employment issues in a sporting context, as well as challenges to the decisions of governing bodies. He is willing to accept instruction to carry out a paper based exercise or to offer a fixed fee service (to include directions, the hearing and drafting of the award).
Steven’s work also involves him representing participants before disciplinary and appeals panels, as well in court and at arbitration. This has included Rule K arbitration, the EFL Player Related Dispute Commission, the British Boxing Board of Control Regulation 24 arbitration and referrals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Steven has been appointed by British Gymnastics, British Cycling and England Boxing to sit on their disciplinary/appeals panels.
British Association for Sport and Law
Employment Law Association
Employment Law Bar Association
The British Irish Commercial Bar Association
Visiting Sports Law Fellow at the Centre for Sports Law Research, Edge Hill University
British Gymnastics Disciplinary Appeal Panel Member
British Cycling Disciplinary Appeal Panel Chair
England Boxing Disciplinary Panel Member
Sports Resolutions' Pro Bono Legal Services Panel
Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Cardiff Law School
Legal 500 2020
"Consistently good and very reliable."
Chambers UK 2020
"Very clear and concise in his advice to clients. Extremely knowledgeable when it comes to rugby, in particular when dealing with regulatory matters." "He has the best knowledge of on-field disciplinary work and is a go-to in the area."
Legal 500 2019
“A very grounded barrister with a great intellect.”
“[Has] niche experience in handling employment disputes within the professional sports world.”
Legal 500 2017
“Very knowledgeable, thorough and technical.”
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