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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pak Cricket Board files arbitration against IMG Reliance !


To the touring Pak, this Series is significant .. .. Pakistan's raw pace attack have been given a wake-up call ahead of the Test series against Australia after struggling to fire against a youth-laden Cricket Australia XI outfit.  In reply to Pakistan's 7(dec)-386, the CA XI were reeling at 2-6 in the two-day tour match at the WACA Ground,  but the Cricket Australia  XI outfit, featuring just five players with first-class experience, finished at 7-245, with the match ending in a draw.   There is news that Naseem  Shah, 16-year-old from Lower Dir district on the border of Afghanistan might play at Brisbane.  If so, he  would eclipse former home captain Ian Craig as the youngest Test debutant on Australian soil. Craig took the field as a 17-year-old against South Africa in 1953, scoring a half-century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Back home, IMG Reliance has added another rising star in Indian Cricket to its list of talents with the inclusion of batting sensation - Shreyas Iyer. IMG Reliance will be handling Iyer’s commercial interests, brand building and management along with other off-field engagements. IMG Reliance already boasts of top names in its rank including run machine Rohit Sharma, world’s premier fast bowler - Jasprit Bumrah and the flamboyant Pandya brothers - Hardik and Krunal. This deal is another addition to IMG Reliance’s roster of the young brigade of Indian cricket.

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2019  as a bill, was passed by the lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha) on 1 Aug 2019 and passed by the upper house of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) also.  Soon after, on 9 August 2019, the 2019 Amendment Act received the assent of the President and was published as Act No. 33 of 2019. Thereafter, certain sections of the 2019 Amendment Act were notified on 30 August 2019.  Though it was tabled in Lok Sabha in 2018, its  passing was delayed due to the lapse of the 16th session of the Lok Sabha.

General condition no. 13 of Standard Fire Policy is – ‘arbitration clause’, which is present in most insurance contracts. Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution, is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons.  An arbitration clause is a commonly used clause in a contract that requires the parties to resolve their disputes through a process of arbitration.  The clause may not incorporate  a specific jurisdiction, but sure would bind  the parties to a type of resolution outside of the courts, and is therefore considered a kind of forum selection clause. The clear advantage of arbitration would the speedy disposal, lesser legal technicalities and formalities, flexibility and lower costs.

In India, an Act  to consolidate and amend the law relating to domestic arbitration, international commercial arbitration and enforcement of  foreign arbitral awards as also to define the law relating to conciliation and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto – came into being in Aug 1996 and is known as “The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996’ – it has been amended recently.

One important aspect in Insurance Policy is that ‘arbitration’ can be invoked only when the liability is admitted and dispute is on the amount.  The condition mentions of appointment of arbitrator and if a single arbitrator cannot be agreed upon, it will be a team of 3 – one  appointed by the Insured; one by the Company and the other appointed by the two selected arbitrators. (earlier policies contained reference to Umpire as third arbitrator !) 

India’s largest company Reliance Industries collaborated with IMG in a joint venture to promote and develop sports, entertainment and fashion in India. The joint venture offers a tremendous opportunity for IMG and Reliance to leverage each other's strengths, and to accelerate the growth of the IMG and Reliance brands in India, reads its website.   IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually.

ESPN Cricinfo reports that -  PCB has filed a claim for damages against IMG Reliance, in relation to its decision to pull out of a deal to produce television coverage of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) earlier this year. IMG Reliance pulled out days after a terrorist attack killed 44 Indian paramilitary troopers on Feb 14 at Pulawama, heightening tensions between India and Pakistan. The claim is to be heard at the London Court of International Arbitration.  According to the PCB, IMG Reliance were sent a legal notice on October 21st, seeking compensation from the broadcaster for the loss the PCB incurred because of the pull-out. The PCB received no reply, prompting them to take the matter to court.

In a PCB meeting set to take place on Friday, Chairman Ehsan Mani will brief the Board of Governors about the move. The PCB is set to state that the "breach of contract by IMGR could have resulted in the remaining PSL matches not being broadcast on television; this would have severely damaged the standing and reputation of the PSL." The abrupt decision by IMG Reliance left the PCB at the time scrambling to find another broadcaster. And because of the compromised position it left the PCB in, revenues took a hit because of the new deal. It took two days for the PCB to strike a deal with Blitz and Trans Group, who bought the rights to arrange television broadcasts for the PSL for approximately USD 36 million, with this deal set to run till the end of the 2022 season.

The PCB's relations with IMG Reliance soured thereafter. For the five-match ODI series against Australia in March, and the recently concluded limited-overs internationals against Sri Lanka in Pakistan, the PCB had stipulated to Blitz and Trans Group that IMG Reliance would not be involved with the process in any way, and that the PCB had blacklisted them. The fallout of the attack on Indian paramilitary troopers continued to afflict the PSL beyond its TV coverage. Military tensions between India and Pakistan necessitated much of Pakistan's airspace to be closed, and meant the three fixtures of the PSL scheduled to take place in Lahore had to be moved to Karachi. For a time, the India-Pakistan game at the World Cup was under threat, though it did eventually go ahead.

For Pak Cricket Board – arbitration is nothing new perhaps.  Last year,  International Cricket Council (ICC),  dismissed the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) claim of compensation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for not adhering to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed between the two nations for playing bilateral series. In 2014, BCCI and PCB had signed a letter as per which the two countries were to play six bilateral cricket series between 2015 and 2023.  Due to the strained relations between between India and Pakistan, no series could take place between the two nations in the aforementioned timeline, leading to PCB reaching ICC for help, asking for compensation of almost $70 million from BCCI.

In the same case, ICC's Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) passed a judgment where they dismissed the claim. India and Pakistan have not played in a bilateral series with each other since 2013. However, the arch-rivals have been playing each other in ICC and Asia Cup tournaments regularly. "We are happy that our stand has been vindicated. What PCB termed as Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was just a proposal letter," CoA chief Vinod Rai told PTI.

A month  after dismissal of the plea of PCB, ICC’s Dispute Resolution Panel ordered Pakistan to pay 60 per cent of the cost demanded by the BCCI after the world body’s rejection of the PCB’s compensation claim which blamed India for lack of bilateral series between the two nations.  ”...the Panel orders the PCB to pay the BCCI sixty percent (60%) of: (a) the Claimed Costs; and (b) the administrative costs and expenses of the Panel...,” the ICC committee said in its fresh judgement, which is binding. The BCCI, on the other hand, was  asked to pay 40 per cent of the administrative costs and expenses of the DRC.  The claim for compensation made by PCB reportedly was   Rs 447 crore !

So another defeat looms at large  for Pak in Cricket !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Nov. 2019.

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