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Self-care and development

Sports Law Clinic FAQs – Litigation

The Sports Law Clinic team have been working hard to answer your frequently asked questions when it comes to sports coaching and the law

Welcome to the Sports Law Clinic FAQs Litigation advice page. Be sure to browse our other FAQ pages for Commercial, Family, and Property. Links at the bottom of the page.

Litigation is the term used when two people, sometimes referred to as ‘parties’ can’t agree on something, and they take it to a court of law. Both sides may agree to ‘settle’ out of court to avoid additional expenses.

A. If an invoice has been raised and not paid in line with the specified payment terms/date stated in the agreement or invoice, the usual course of action is to send the debtor (person who has not paid) a Letter of Claim (in accordance with the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct*). 

This letter should set out the concise details of the claim including:

  • a brief summary of the facts
  • how much money is required to be paid 
  • when the money should be paid by.

Typically, the time given for a response is 14 days. If no payment is made in that time and no response is received disputing the debt, then the next step could be to begin court proceedings. 

If the creditor is a company and the debtor an individual, a slightly different approach must be taken in line with the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims. 

As an alternative, if already aware that the debtor (person who owes you monies) is unable to pay the invoice at all, then there is an option to serve a statutory demand on them as a precursor to insolvency proceedings. This option should be used sparingly and only when sure that there is no dispute over the invoice (what is owed for the services provided), other than it simply can’t be paid. It should also be noted that a bankruptcy petition can only be brought on debts of over £5,000.00, whereas a claim can be brought for any amount. 

It is recommended to seek legal advice prior to sending a Letter of Claim or Statutory Demand. 

* Practice Direction on Pre-action Conduct provides guidance on what is deemed to be fair and proportionate steps before considering court action.

Making a small claim – Citizens Advice
Pre-Action Protocols – Civil Procedure Rules (justice.gov.uk)

A. In short, yes. Under the tort of negligence*, an individual can be liable if it is deemed that they owed a duty of care to the participant, that there was a breach of that duty, that the breach caused the loss (such as an injury) and that the loss suffered is deemed to be recoverable. 

An individual may also be liable for breach of contract if there are applicable contractual terms which have been breached. Volunteer and professional coaches may be vulnerable to claims if they do not adopt reasonable and justifiable coaching practices when coaching participants and injury is caused. 

This is a complex area of law, and any case will be very fact specific. It is therefore strongly recommended to seek legal advice regarding any possible negligence claim. 

* Negligence is the act or omission of an act which falls short of the standard to be expected of the "reasonable person".  That the negligence was owed to the claimant because the negligent act (or omission of the act) fell within the defendant’s (coach) scope of duty and was, therefore, a breach of the duty.

A. Unfortunately, it is not possible for coaches (or anyone) to contract out of liability for two things, personal injury and death. Of course, it is open to individuals to make sure they have adequate insurance to attempt to mitigate any risk.

A. It depends on whether you can prove the written review or statement is untrue and not just an opinion. Very broadly, if a statement has been published that is provably untrue (such that it can be shown that the individual had no reasonable/honest belief in the contents), then you may have a cause of action against that individual or the publisher in defamation. 

In advance of issuing a court claim, the preferred course of action is to send a letter requesting that the review/statement is taken down as a matter of urgency. It is recommended to seek legal advice on this before progressing further.  A legal practitioner letter may have more impact than a personal request. 

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Related Resources

  • Sports Law Clinic FAQs – Commercial

    View
  • Sports Law Clinic FAQs – Family

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  • Sports Law Clinic FAQs – Property

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