The Fundamental Principles of Justice and Legal Vacuums: The Regulatory Powers of National Sporting Bodies

Authors Clive Plasket

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Judge of the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 133 Issue 3, 2016, p. 569 – 599


This article is concerned with whether private bodies that administer sporting codes on a national level exercise public or private power in the exercise of their bureaucratic or regulatory functions. This is an issue of importance as the answer to this question determines the nature and extent of the legal control over the actions of what have become powerful, often monopolistic, organisations able to take decisions that may have devastating effects on those who are subject to their powers. In order to explore this issue, it is necessary to begin with an historical overview of the development of these bodies and to discuss the place of sport in the wider society. Once that has been done, I shall address whether private bodies are able to exercise public power and, if so, in what circumstances; how the courts have traditionally dealt with sporting bodies and their exercises of power; and, finally, whether that approach still holds good in the context of the legislative and socio-political framework within which sport is regulated in South Africa.