John is Head of Littleton’s Sports Law Group, which he formed in 2012. He is now ranked as a leading KC in this practice area with the Sports Law Group ranked in Band 2 by legal directories.
In terms of sitting on sporting panels, John has been appointed as:
- an independent FA Rule K and EFL arbitrator (often as sole arbitrator).
- an independent FA Discipline Chair (hearing cases of “aggravated misconduct”, concerning discrimination charges).
- a member the Court of Arbitration for Sport pro bono counsel list (in English and French).
- a member of Sport Resolutions’ independent arbitrator and pro bono counsel
- a selected advocate to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games for ad hoc sittings of the CAS.
- a selected advocate at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games for ad hoc sittings of the CAS.
- a mentor to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics Legal Service.
John is also viewed as pre-eminent in conducting independent reviews in sport, having been:
- commissioned by UK Sport and British Cycling as the only legally qualiﬁed panel-member on the ﬁrst-ever independent review into the climate and culture of an Olympic and Paralympic world class programme, namely that of British Cycling;
- appointed as chair of the independent review into the British Equestrian Federation.
- was commissioned as chair of the independent review into UK Athletics’ handling of allegations concerning the Nike Oregon Project and Alberto Salazar.
- appointed investigator for an international federation concerning governance issues.
- appointed investigator for a national sporting body concerning historic discrimination allegations.
In all reviews, John drafted the respective reports as approved by his fellow panel members as applicable, the recommendations of which were then accepted in full by all relevant parties. Those reviews and recommendations form a blueprint for positive culture and good governance within publicly funded sport.
John also represents parties in all sporting jurisdictions both nationally and abroad, including the FA, Premier League, RFU, UEFA, FIFA and CAS.
In 2018 John also formally launched Littleton’s ‘Inspire Sports Law’ initiative to oﬀer work experience and mentoring to those from minority backgrounds and athletes transitioning away from sport to encourage greater diversity at the Bar and provide ongoing pastoral care for sports people.
Some of his Sports Law cases include:
- Turk v Fédération International de Motorcyclisme (CAS) concerning the annulment of an 8-year suspension.
- FA Arbitration concerning a challenge to the nomination of an arbitrator (leading Joe Bryan).
- FA Arbitration concerning cross-jurisdictional contractual issues arising from international transfer.
- High Court claim for inducement by Premiership rugby club of a breach of contract by player (leading Grahame Anderson).
- Chair of Independent Review into UK Athetlics’ handling of allegations concerning Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project.
- CAS appeal concerning eligibility of referee to be selected at international tournaments.
- CAS appeal concerning payment obligations arising from alleged international transfer.
- Advisory work concerning contractual variations to rugby union players.
- FA Arbitration concerning alleged breach of representation contract between intermediary and Premier League player (leading Joe Bryan)
- EFL Arbitration concerning alleged breach of contract and counterclaim for alleged breach of warranty arising from loan transfer agreement (leading Ashley Cukier)
- Premier League Managers Arbitration about wrongful dismissal and counterclaim for breach of contract (led by Paul Gilroy KC).
- Cross-jurisdictional High Court and Employment Tribunal claims between rugby player and Premiership club concerning alleged breach of contract and discrimination.
- FIFA Dispute Resolution Committee case about entitlements arising from incomplete player transfer.
- EFL Arbitration about alleged ‘buy-out’ clause.
- FA Arbitration about alleged breach of contract and inducement to breach, and cross-jurisdictional issues.
- EFL Appeals Committee about jurisdiction of the EFL Player Related Disputes Commission.
- EFL Player Related Disputes Commission arbitration about the registration and scholarship offer to an academy player, and the entitlement of compensation to a football club.
- Middlesbrough FC v. Birmingham FC & Ors. (QBD) 2018 (Warby J.) Team move, speedy trial application. Co-responded with Adam Solomon KC.
- EFL Disciplinary Commission arbitration about a disciplinary sanction to a former officer of a football club.
- Chair of FA Arbitration on issue of non-payment related to oversees transfer and the application of foreign law principles.
- FA Arbitration on jurisdiction of Rule K to determine dispute concerning overseas transfer.
- Chair of Independent Review into allegations and the leadership of the British Equestrian Federation (commissioned by UK Sport, the BEF, Sport England and administered by Sport Resolutions).
- CAS case on termination for just cause, liquidated damages and compensation mitigation principles, and sporting sanctions (leading Ashley Cukier).
- FA Arbitration on jurisdiction of Rule K where a representation contact is signed and alleged breach occurs overseas.
- Sidibe v. CSKA Sofia FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber claim for non-payment of wages and bonuses.
- RFU v. Fenton-Wells reduced RFU disciplinary sanction for making contact with the eye or eye area.
- Panel Member of Independent Review into Culture and Climate at British Cycling (commissioned by UK Sport, British Cycling and administered by Sport Resolutions).
- Non-selection appeal, resulting in the athlete being re-selected by governing body to pre-Rio 2016 World Championships (via Sport Resolutions and the British Athletes Commission).
- FA Arbitration about non-payments by player under representation contract.
- Bristol Rugby v. Borthwick v RFU
- Injunction application to prevent RFU poaching club’s coach (led by David Reade KC).FA Arbitration on whether Rule K applies to a representation contract between a player agent and an overseas player.
- CAS case on non-payments to a football agent by Middle Eastern club following player transfer.
- UK Anti-Doping v. Bilton Mitigation and sanction for doping offence under overlapping 2009 and 2015 WADA Codes.
- FA Arbitration on when a replay should be ordered if club fields an ineligible player.
- Advice on liquidated damages clause in Premier League manager’s contract.
- FA Arbitration on breach of representation agreement and fiduciary duties.
- FIFA & CAS cases on agent’s commission, jurisdiction clauses, non-payments to player, “just cause” and compensation.
- FA Appeal about interpretation of FA Rules and Regulations concerning relegation.
- Classification and non-selection appeals by Paralympic champion and to Sochi Winter Games respectively (via Sports Resolutions).
- Take-over of Leeds United.
- Advice on George North’s contract with Northampton Saints (led by Damian Brown KC).
- High Court claim over FA Cup Final tickets (led by Andrew Clarke KC).
- Premier League Managers Arbitration about termination payment (led by Damian Brown KC).
- Jones v. Cardiff City Claim for unpaid salary and bonuses (led by Damian Brown KC).
- Cross-border image rights dispute (led by David Reade KC).
- Allardyce v. Blackburn Rovers & Kean Defamation action by Sam Allardyce.
- Slough v. Milton Keynes RUFC; RFU v. Bristol RFC RFU disciplinaries into race and biting allegations respectively.