Wednesday, 19 August 2009

LTW Readers Q&A | Arbitration?

One of my regular readers send me an Email with some questions about Arbitration.

Perhaps some of your readers can help me with some questions regarding the Arbitration procedure.

I have checked the ISAFweb site, and the following ISAF Member Nations web sites, CYA(Canada), RYA(Great Britain), US Sailing(USA), and Yachting New Zealand(YNZ)
Here is what I have found so far on the subject of Arbitration.

The CYA has a document on their web site titled "Experimental Arbitration System".

The RYA has a document titled "RYA Racing Best Practices-Rules Disputes" that is quite extensive and thorough in describing their Arbitration procedure. Also, the RYA protest form includes a check box for Arbitration under "Type of Hearing Requested".

US Sailing discusses Arbitration in Chapter 8 of their Judges Manual and has a Judges form titled "Arbitration Report".

The ISAF describes the Arbitration procedure in chaper 10 of their International Judges Manual.

Also there is an ISAF "Racing Rules Reporting Committee" "Submission # 113-03" (not dated but may be from 2003) that recommended that the Appendix 8 (now Chapter 10) of the ISAF Judges Manual become an Appendix to the RRS. Obviously that has not happened.

The New Zealand Yachting federation discusses Arbitration in their "YNZ Regulations". Interestingly though it appears that New Zealand had an Appendix "Z" for the Arbitration procedure in their 2005-2008 rule book. But for 2009-2012 it has apparently been dropped as a prescription and is now their Regulation # 4.5.5. Also, in their (YNZ) Appendix L they include a couple of suggested SI's (1.7 and 16.2) for when Arbitration will be used. I find no other ISAF member nation that has changed ISAF Appendix L.

My questions are as follows.
  1. Why is there no ISAF Rules Appendix that describes the Arbitration procedure? Perhaps just advisory in nature, similar to Appendix M, or simply add an Arbitration procedure to Appendix M?
  2. Why does the ISAF Appendix L not provide the suggested SI's and text for an SI when Arbitration will be used?
  3. And, is there a reader of your blog that can furnish a copy of the text of the YNZ Appendix Z that was apparently a prescription to the New Zealand rules in 2005-2008?
  4. Can anyone in New Zealand explain why their Appendix Z of their 2005-2008 rule book was not in the 2009-2012 New Zealand rule book and instead became Regulation 4.5.5?

Dear Dick,

I have no answers for your queries. Locally I've tried arbitration for a couple of years, but it never caught on. Only some of the events - mostly youth classes - use it, in my neck of the woods. They follow pretty much the standard as described in the Judges Manual.

If you can help Dick with his questions, please leave a comment or mail me.



  1. I don't know anything about the New Zealand prescription.

    I do know that I have had a fair amount of success with arbitration in our local keelboat races in Toronto.

    There are a couple of challenges:
    1) We have always avoided having the aribitrator sit on any protest committee hearing the related protest. This means that for a small regatta with a relatively low number of expected protests we need an extra person (1 as aribitrator, 3 in case the protest goes to a full committee). With a good success rate in aribitration, the 3 people on the protest committee end up with nothing to do.

    2) We started by using very experienced judges as aribitrators. We are having trouble getting new judges to get protest committee experience on real protests since too many of them end with arbitration. I have started to train some arbitrators who have less protest ctee experience.

    I think the success in local races reflects the wish to have a quick process. We use a 20% penalty on the water, a 40% penalty after the race including following arbitration and of course a DSQ from the protest committee. I find it is not the difference between 40% and DSQ that makes the difference, instead it is the wish to avoid the time of a full protest hearing that encourages competitors to accept the arbitrators suggestion.

  2. Hi Dick

    I'm from New Zealand. I've never heard of appendix Z, and its certainly not in my copy of the 2005 - 2008 rule book (published by Yachting New Zealand). We've always used regulation 4.5.5 that you referred to.

    John G

  3. I can't read the mind of the members of the ISAF Racing Rules Committee (RRC), but I suggest that the reasons that Arbitration isn't in the 2009 rules is that the RRC cannot agree on all the details about form(s) and procedures Arbitration and other possible dispute resolution alternatives.

    Compare the single Arbitration procedure in Judges Manual (JM) Chap 10 with the three alternatives adopted by the RYA (Exoneration Penalty, Advisory Hearing, and Arbitration).

    Best Practices Rules Disputes

    By the Way, I can't find the Yachting NZ Appendix Z, but the relevant regulation is here
    NZ Regulation

    Key differences between JM Chap 10 and RYA system are:

    RYA Arbitration can deal with requests for redress, Chap 10 system doesn't

    RYA, the Arbitrator may be a member of a subsequent protest committee.

    The goal of the Chap 10 process is to 'simplify and speed up' the protest hearing protest.

    The goal of the RYA process is to resond to an identified 'reluctance to take matters to protest hearings', by (I deduce) providing warmer, fuzzier processes.

    AndrewA says the benefit of Arbitration in Toronto is reduced time spent.

    Difficulties with Arbitration are:

    It relies on having an experienced judge as the arbitrator. Not only is an experienced judge necessary, but arbitration requires a special and difficult skills set, which is not necessarily or readily found in ordinary sailing judges.

    If you haven't got a really skilled arbitrator, you risk putting too much power in the hands of one person.

    Using an experienced judge as an arbitrator, will then cause difficulties in finding sufficient good protest committee members, if the JM Chap 10 rule excluding the Arbitrator from any eventual protest committee is followed.

    Remember, an Arbitrator cannot hear witnesses, or decide on contested facts (otherwise the contesting party will just go on to a full hearing). This isn't a bad thing, although some people suggest that it is a bad thing that an Arbitration provides an opportunity for a party to have a 'dress rehearsal' and subsequently adjust the facts and arguments that she will present in the full protest hearing.

    That said, I think the RYA Exoneration Penalty (less than RAF, for competitors to take voluntarily when they realise after finishing that they have broken a rule), and Advisory Hearing, under that name, look like a good system.

    In an ordinary sailing club that does not have a pool of good experienced judges, and where the protest committee is really a 'jury of peers' from among the general population of racers, inserting Arbitration may lead to Arbitration being done by not-so-good judges, and retarding the growth of potential protest committee members (as AndrewA describes): I would hate to see the growth of a 'professional' judge class of people in every club.


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