International law firm Pinsent Masons has won 4* event rider Alexander Peternell the legal right to represent South Africa in the London 2012 Olympic Games. In an extraordinary process, Alex's place on Team South Africa was confirmed late last night; hours before the Olympic eventing competition process began. The hearing was the first case to be heard under the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Ad Hoc procedure for the London 2012 Olympics.
At a first hearing last Friday, CAS overturned the decisions of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF) to deny the event rider his right to compete in the equestrian eventing category.
CAS, chaired by President Stuart McInnes, upheld Alex's claim that he satisfied SASCOC and SAEF eligibility criteria and that under the selection policy for the South African Eventing Team and the 2012 Olympic Games he should be selected to represent South Africa (rather than Paul Hart, the nominated rider). Alex was then forced to make a second hearing before CAS in Switzerland.
CAS have now upheld Alex's case and ordered that Mr Peternell be placed on Team South Africa and accorded every assistance to ensure that both he and his horse can enter the Games.
Alexander Peternell, is the first South African rider to have competed at Burghley, and the only South African to have completed both Badminton and Burghley. He will be the sole South African rider at the Olympics.
Commenting on the appeal win, Alex said: "I am thrilled to be fulfilling a life-long ambition; to have secured the opportunity to compete at the Olympics. It is with great pride that I shall do so; but my selection is tinged with sadness, given that it required an intense legal challenge to deliver it. It has become increasingly frustrating but now at last I can, albeit with only hours to spare, compete for my country."
"I will be eternally grateful to the Pinsent Masons team; their strategic guidance on the complex sporting regulatory issues contributed to the result that means that I can now represent South Africa in the London 2012 Olympic Games."
The Pinsent Masons team advising Alexander Peternell was led by Global Head of Sport Trevor Watkins and Litigation Partner Sarah Boon, assisted by Andrew Herring and Charlotte English.
Trevor comments: "The team is delighted to have won this complex and substantive case in time for the London 2012 Games. I have never witnessed as extraordinary a case as this where there has been, flagrant disregard for due process leading up to the claim and then in accepting CAS decisions. National authorities are required to take sporting regulations seriously; it is frustrating for all involved that Alex had to resort to legal process in the first place. If the proper processes had been followed we'd never have had to go to court. It is bitterly disappointing to witness how this has played out but encouraging though, that the robustness of the legal framework surrounding the Olympics and the Court of Arbitration for Sport achieved the right result in the end."
He added: "We are seeing an increasing number of decisions testing sport eligibility rules. The importance of governance, the commercial rights values within sport and increasing individual awareness of both, underpins how the global business of sport continues to grow. It is a sector that we will continue to invest in both nationally and internationally."
Litigation Partner Sarah Boon commented: “I have known Alex for many years and was pleased to get the result he needed to complete this year. The knowledge of our leading global sports team was invaluable in securing the result that Alex is thrilled with."