Cowley v Heatley: ChD 24 Jul 1986

The court considered a challenge to the disciplinary procedures in the sport of swimming. Sir Nicolas Brown-Wilkinson VC said: ‘I am echoing the sentiments expressed by Sir Robert Megarry VC in McInness v Onslow-Fane [1978] 1 WLR 1520. At page 1535 at F he says this: ‘I think that the courts must be slow to allow an implied obligation to be fair to be used as a means of bringing before the court for review honest decisions of bodies exercising jurisdiction over sporting and other activities which those bodies are far better fitted to judge than the courts. This is so even where those bodies are concerned with the means of livelihood of those who take part in those activities. The concepts of natural justice and the duty to be fair must not be allowed to discredit themselves by making unreasonable requirements and imposing undue burdens. Bodies such as the board which promote a public interest by seeking to maintain high standards in a field of activity which otherwise might easily become degraded and corrupt ought not to be hampered in their work without good cause.’ I think that is, if I may say so with respect, good sense. It is the court’s function to control illegality and to make sure that a body does not act outside its powers. But I do not think that the interests of sport or anybody else would be served by the courts seeking to double guess regulating bodies in charge of domestic arrangements . . .’


Sir Nicolas Brown-Wilkinson VC


Times 24-Jul-1986


England and Wales


ApprovedMcInnes v Onslow-Fane ChD 1978
The applicant had been granted a boxing manager’s licence for several years. He appealed its refusal now over a few years.
Held: The case was in the application for a licence rather than in a forfeiture or an expectation class, and there was . .

Cited by:

CitedMcKeown v British Horseracing Authority QBD 12-Mar-2010
The jockey claimant challenged disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the defendant authority.
Held: The findings were upheld in part but remitted for consideration of giving the claimant opportunity to challenge certain evidence. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 28 June 2022; Ref: scu.402644