Sports governing bodies and competition organisers have to craft rules and regulations establishing eligibility and competition conditions that will ensure fair and meaningful competition. This includes rules creating competition categories based on sex, age, weight, etc, as well as rules regulating the use of equipment in sport, and rules regulating financial fair play.

This can be a legal minefield, with stakeholders complaining about what they see as unfair restrictions on their legal rights. We are very experienced in giving the clear and robust advice required to guide sports bodies through this minefield, by ensuring that they define clearly the legitimate objectives that drive their regulations and limit restrictions to what is necessary and proportionate to achieve those objectives.

Case studies

Six Nations Championship/Pro 14 Championship: Every year we draft the Participation Agreements for the Six Nations Championship and the Pro 14 Championship. The Participation Agreement is the document that binds the clubs or unions (depending on the competition) and sets out their respective obligations in terms of competition rules, commercial and media requirements, and disciplinary rules and anti-doping rules, among other things. The Participation Agreements require the interpretation and inclusion of World Rugby law and regulatory updates. We also regularly advise each competition organiser in relation to any breaches of the rules and have represented the competitions in disciplinary hearings before the relevant rugby tribunal.

Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA): We advised the FIA on the introduction of a package of ground-breaking regulatory changes of a sporting, technical and financial nature intended to define the future of Formula One from 2021 onwards, click here for more information. A key pillar of these revolutionary changes is the 2021 Formula One Financial Regulations, a landmark set of regulations that introduces a cap on the amount that each team may spend during a calendar year in order to participate in the FIA Formula One World Championship. The 2021 Financial Regulations are designed to promote the competitive balance and sporting fairness of the Formula One Championship while simultaneously seeking to ensure the long-term financial stability and sustainability of the teams.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)/World Athletics:  Based on input from medical and scientific experts, we drafted regulations addressing the eligibility to compete in the female category of athletes with female gender identity but (due to differences in sex development) male biology. We then successfully defended the legality of those regulations in a case brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Caster Semenya, the South African Olympic champion, in 2019, click here for more information. The Swiss Federal Tribunal subsequently rejected her appeal against the CAS award upholding the regulations. This also led to work for the group on transgender athletes, click here for more information.

Key Contacts

Jonathan Taylor, Max Duthie


The strongest sports regulatory team there is.”

legal 500, 2021