Monday, 23 February 2009

LTW Readers Q&A | 19 "Filling the chair..."

I am a judge in training and await, with angst, the day when I will be the protest committee chair.

I was wondering if any of the experienced judges who visit your blog would like to say how they handle and respond to the following situation, which I expect to encounter?

When the jury is reading it’s decision to the parties the DSQ’ed party attempts to interrupt and to give more evidence or to ask questions such as " where did you get that, I did not say that" or some other questions as to how the jury made a conclusion or, to try to remind the jury of what the parties said during the testimony part?

Thanks, D.


Well D, I can honestly say that all chairmen go through this. They have had several occasions where one or both parties become emotional or even unreasonable, when the conclusion is read and the decision is announced.

The foremost thing to remember is that the time to discuss those issues is not during that part of the process. What works for me are these things:

- If I get the feeling during the hearing that one of the parties is going that way, is already upset during finding the evidence, I start with telling both parties the procedure, before reading the facts found, conclusion and decision. That this final part is not a discussion, that they are invited to listen but not expected to speak.
Sometimes it also helps to let someone else of the committee do the actual reading, while you as chairman immediately stop a party when he or she starts to object. Don't let them speak a sentence before you intervene, ask them to listen. If you haven't told them before, tell them at the first sign it is going that way.

- Secondly, offer to discuss the issue at another time. Some time after all the protests have been handled and the party has time to cool down a little. Emphasize that you are willing to discuss it, but not while emotions have the upper hand. You are always available to talk about the rules and procedures, but in a reasonable atmosphere and only if the other party is willing to listen. Suggest a time the next morning if possible....

- If a party persist, politely but firmly point them out that a request for reopening or an appeal are available to them, but they should follow the rules in getting that started.

Don't fall into the trap of actually responding to the accusations, don't go over the arguments, don't answer. Discussion is closed. Read the facts, conclusions and decision and ask parties to leave the room. Most likely you'll have other protests waiting.


If all fails, call Corporal Carrot of the Night Watch....

Comments invited.


  1. Absolutely agree with Corporal Carrot... firmly but politely that, should either party disagree with the panel's findings and conclusions, they may appeal, or take what ever action is available to them as per the RRS and Sailing instructions... abusing "the umpire" is NOT one of those available actions...

  2. I have found that getting each of the parties to agree to each one of the facts before going to the next fact really helps. (Boat A was on starboard tack, both agree; boat B was also on starboard tack, both agree; boats were overlapped, both agree) It sets it up like a logical syllogism. This is one of the many reasons to make sure that you write down all of the facts clearly. The facts will give you the decision. I also find that citing an appeal helps too. Be polite but stand your ground. I have also thought of bringing a supply of coasters (pickle dishes)with me and give one to the ill party and say "here's your coaster, now go away".

  3. Good advice from Jos, Anon and Collins. I especially like the one by Jos to let another read the decision then the committee chair be quick to stop the parties when they want to interupt or object.

    I will print out the advice given and sleep with it under my pillow.

    Thanks D.


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