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Failure to adhere to timelines in Olympic sports or legal proceedings can have serious ramifications

In the wake of one of the most exciting Olympics for Canadians in recent years, there are in fact, some important lessons to learn regarding limitation periods.  While there was much to be celebrated, you probably didn’t know that Canada had an opportunity to win another gold medal, but missed out on that opportunity because it failed to lodge a timely protest.

The final gold medal race in the Olympic men’s ski cross competition was held at the Extreme Park of Rosa Khutor on February 20, 2014 at approximately 2:30 p.m. Prior to the race, a coach for Team Canada observed the coaches of the French team pulling and shaping the lower pant legs on the suits of their athletes. Moments later, the French team swept the competition winning the gold, silver and bronze medal in the events. Canadian Brady Leman came in fourth place.

Later that day, at approximately 10:30 p.m., after reviewing video evidence of the race, the Canadian Olympic Committee (“COC”) and Alpine Canada (“AC”) lodged a protest pursuant with sports law.  The protest was filed with the International Ski Federation (“FIS”) alleging the French team improperly manipulated their suits in contravention of the equipment rules for ski cross. The FIS dismissed the protest on the basis that it was not lodged within the timelines stipulated in the rules. (The FIS rules require an in-competition protest be filed within 15 minutes of the competition taking place).

On February 22, 2014, the COC and AC appealed the decision of the FIS to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) alleging that the 15 minute time window was entirely unreasonable in the circumstances and that it had brought its protest to the FIS as soon as was practical. CAS dismissed the appeal on the basis that the protest was untimely. CAS stated that COC and AC had more than enough information to lodge the protest at the time it first observed the alterations being made to the suits. The result, Canada was forced to content itself with yet another fourth place finish.

While you may think an Olympic case doesn’t apply to you, the truth is, there are some very handy lessons to be had. Namely, failure to adhere to a timeline in a legal proceeding can have some very serious ramifications and absent a very compelling reason for failure to comply with it, you may be prevented from proceeding with your case. If you are concerned about something that has happened, you should consult a lawyer immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late. There is no fourth place consolation prize in law.

Mar 06, 2014