Peternell and lawyers speak of last-minute court win

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Alex Peternell and AP Uprising, the first horse he qualified for the Olympics but who was ruled out through injury.
Alex Peternell and AP Uprising, the first horse he qualified for the Olympics but who was ruled out through injury.

South African eventer Alexander Peternell, whose late inclusion in his country’s Olympic team resulted from an appeal to the world’s leading court for sporting disputes, has spoken of the legal action that got him to London.

“I am thrilled to be fulfilling a life-long ambition, to have secured the opportunity to compete at the Olympics,” the  four-star eventer said.

“It is with great pride that I shall do so, but my selection is tinged with sadness, given that it required an intense legal challenge to deliver it.

“It has become increasingly frustrating but now at last I can, albeit with only hours to spare, compete for my country.”

Peternell expressed his thanks to his legal team from Pinsent Masons for their work on what he described as complex sporting regulatory issues.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, ruled this week that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF) had erred in selecting Paul Hart instead of Peternell, who bases himself in Britain.

The court ordered that Hart’s selection be set aside, opening the way for Peternell’s Olympic inclusion as the sole South African rider at the Games.

A CAS panel, chaired by President Stuart McInnes, upheld Peternell’s assertion that he satisfied SASCOC and SAEF eligibility criteria and that under the selection policy for the South African eventing team and the 2012 Olympic Games he should have been selected to represent South Africa rather than Hart.

Peternell then had to take part in a second hearing before this week’s ruling was made in his favour.

Peternell is the first South African rider to have competed at Burghley, and the only South African to have completed both Badminton and Burghley.

Alex Peternell and Asih jumping out of the water at Bramham CCI 3* in June, where they completed their Olympic qualification.
Alex Peternell and Asih jumping out of the water at Bramham CCI 3* in June, where they completed their Olympic qualification. © equineimage.com

The Pinsent Masons legal team advising Peternell was led by its global head of sport, Trevor Watkins, and litigation partner Sarah Boon, assisted by Andrew Herring and Charlotte English.

Watkins expressed his delight at the win in the case, but continued: “I have never witnessed as extraordinary a case as this, where there has been flagrant disregard for due process leading up to the claim and then in accepting CAS decisions.

“National authorities are required to take sporting regulations seriously; it is frustrating for all involved that Alex had to resort to legal process in the first place.

“If the proper processes had been followed we’d never have had to go to court.

“It is bitterly disappointing to witness how this has played out but encouraging though, that the robustness of the legal framework surrounding the Olympics and the Court of Arbitration for Sport achieved the right result in the end.

He continued:  “We are seeing an increasing number of decisions testing sport eligibility rules. The importance of governance, the commercial rights values within sport and increasing individual awareness of both, underpins how the global business of sport continues to grow.

“It is a sector that we will continue to invest in both nationally and internationally.”

Boon added: “I have known Alex for many years and was pleased to get the result he needed.”

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Peternell and lawyers speak of last-minute court win

  • July 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm
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    Funny how Alex Peternell has the time to talk to the New Zealand press, but cannot be bothered to respond to the SA press.

    Reply
    • July 28, 2012 at 12:56 am
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      I am sure you missed Alex’s radio interview on 702 and Cape Talk.

      Reply
  • July 28, 2012 at 1:03 am
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    Which SA press has he not responded to? And in what menner did they contact him?

    Reply

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