This evening I'll have the opportunity to attend my first appeal committee meeting. As I posted before I was invited to attend this year as an observer.
Last month three appeals have been send in. Due to the confidentiality in this process I'm not allowed to tell you about the actual cases, just yet.
Appeals are the second layer provided in the rules, in case parties do not agree with the decision of the protest-committee. Only a party to the hearing can "appeal" that decision to the National Authority. In the Netherlands our MNA has formed "de Zeilraad" (translates as: Sailing Counsel) to handle those appeals.
Most PC's are done by more knowledgeable sailors or persons who have studied the rules, like me. But still we amateurs. And we do make mistakes or don't know everything. Therefore it's not something to feel ashamed of if your decision is appealed. Unless a PC has been very sloppy or made procedural mistakes, it should welcome the help of experts.
Appeal committees have a couple of options: (rule 71.2 RRS)
- They can uphold, change or reverse the decision of the PC
After collecting all the relevant papers and asking for comments on the appeal from all parties, they will give a decision. The facts found however are not open to appeal. This is because the appeal committee does not conduct a hearing finding those facts. That was the job of the PC and unless they are missing or inadequate, the appeal committee accepts the facts as found. On those facts they will draw a conclusion based on the rules and give a decision.
- They can declare the protest or request for redress invalid
If the appeals committee finds that validity has been compromised they will draw this conclusion.
- They can send the protest or request back for another hearing to the original or different protest-committee.
Typically this will be done when those facts are missing or inadequate. Sometimes because the procedure to get those facts were not adhered to. Like parties not present during the hearing or validity not established or witnesses not allowed. A new hearing is then conducted and the facts found, conclusion and decision are send to the appeals committee.
A picture of Valk 830 "Sledgehammer" sailed by Onno Yntema and Klaas Weissenbach jr. They won the National Championship 2008 yesterday!
In the past I have had a couple of appeals on protest were I was a member of the PC. With the first ones I felt a little anxious and nervous. Would the appeals committee agree with the decision? But lately that has not been the case. Those appeals were almost always about very tricky or seldom used rules, where I was glad more people looked at it and gave their verdict.
I didn't always agree with their interpretation, but that's not been a problem. The rules are complicated enough and we all have to accept that different insights will lead to different decisions.
How about you? Any appeals on your decisions?