Ne bis in idem in disciplinary proceedings initiated at both the national- and the international level
SFT Judgments 4A_484/2022 and 4A_486/2022 of 26 April 2023
The disciplinary proceedings at national - and international level constitute "two sides of a unique system" that would be jeopardised if not triggered in parallel.
These two factually very similar judgments related to match-fixing in tennis. Both judgments 4A_484/2022 and 4A_486/2022 of 26 April 2023 primarily dealt with the principle of ne bis in idem as part of public policywhen disciplinary proceedings are opened for allegations of match-fixing by both the national federation (NF) and the international federation (IF). In a case where the athlete was acquitted by the NF but convicted by the IF, the SFT held that there was no violation of the principle ne bis in idem and that the material and temporal link between both proceedings constitute “two sides of a unique system”, which would be jeopardized if not triggered in parallel. Consequently, concurrent or subsequent national and international disciplinary proceedings do not infringe Swiss public policy / ne bis in idem, at least as long as national proceedings do not have an automatic international effect.
In addition to the aforementioned plea of ne bis in idem, the decision 4A_484/2022 of 26 April 2023 dealt with theindependence and impartiality of an arbitrator belonging to a barristers’ Chamber: The panel chair Mr. Michael J. Beloff KC was challenged by the athlete as two out of the four Anti-Corruption Commissioners worked in the same Chambers. The SFT disregarded the argument that such arbitrator would be inclined to “defend” the decision rendered by his colleagues in order to protect their reputation. After seriously questioning the admissibility of the grievance to the extent that the player had not raised any objection during the hearing, the SFT dismissed the plea as unfounded, confirming that there is no analogy between barristers belonging to the same Chambers and lawyers belonging to the same law firm. Therefore, in the absence of additional criteria, such connection cannot on its own establish bias under Art. 190 (2) a PILA.