Today in our Tuesday cycle on definitions, one which is appearing in the rule book only a couple of times; in RRS 60.2(a) & 60.3(a), RRS 63.4, RRS 71.1, and Appendices E1.3(a) & N3.3:
Interested Party A person who may gain or lose as a result of a protest committee’s decision, or who has a close personal interest in the decision.
Examples: Any other competitor in the same race, regatta or series is an interested party. Any family of a competitor is an interested party. If you have a working relationship (employee/boss) with a competitor, you might be an interested party. Someone with the same nationality in an International event is not, because of that fact alone, an interested party. In a request for redress, a member of the Race committee is regarded as an interested party.
An interested party has to "fight his own battles". If he or she wants to protest another boat, they will have to do it themselves. They cannot run to the RC or the PC and ask them to do it for them. RRS 60.2 and 60.3 prohibits that.
A protestor or someone who's protested can object to a member of the PC, who they percieve as an interested party, but they will have to do so, at the beginning of the hearing. Hollering afterwards about it, will do no good The committee must act on an objection in most cases, but it's their decision. If a party doesn't know the relations between others in that hearing, they can ask. Most judges will excuse themselves before it gets to that, but they still can appear as a witness and give evidence. RRS 63.4
By having this provision in the rules, any decisions a PC makes can be solely based on the rules and not on any other (perceived) biased point. This is standard legal practice.
The same principle is the reason for RRS 71.1, so that in an appeal no interested party can influence the appeal decision.
It is customary that the PC asks all parties in a hearing if they have any objections to the members of the panel. (N3.3). This is however a recommendation, not a rule. If you know about a conflict of interest, it's a good idea to talk to the PC before the hearing or bring it up right up front, even if you are not asked about it. When you bring it up after the hearing and the decision has not gone your way, objectivity will be hard to find.