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FIA set for a slew of court cases says expert

NEWS STORY
07/02/2010

The fall-out from Flavio Briatore's historic court victory over the FIA continues. According to a report in the Independent by Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt, an eminent lawyer has predicted that the FIA could face more lawsuits from disgruntled recipients of its decisions and, crucially, its status as the sole arbiter of F1 disputes may have finally come to the end of the road.

"It is reasonable to say that the FIA monopoly on decision-making in motorsport may now be coming to an end and that we can expect increasing court challenges in the future," says Jonathan Lux, partner at international law firm Ince & Co, adding "indeed, some previous well known FIA decisions may be vulnerable in light of the approach taken by the French court, subject to the relevant time bar limitations."

The FIA was undone by Briatore's argument that its then-president Max Mosley was effectively acting as judge, jury and executioner since he launched the investigation into race-fixing claims against Briatore and then presided over his ban from the sport in his role as chairman of the World Council.

The French court ruled that "the decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president... with Mr. Mosley having played a leading role in launching the enquiry... in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies."

Briatore claims that as a result of this, "every decision made by the World Council was illegal" and a challenge of one of these decisions in particular could ultimately put the brakes on the FIA.

In 2007 McLaren was of course caught spying on Ferrari and the World Council handed it a $100m fine. Briatore says he thinks McLaren may take action against the FIA to recover the $100m in light of his court result.

McLaren refuses to confirm this and Matt Bishop, its head of communications, simply says "we have no comment on the Briatore case."

However, if McLaren were to take action and succeed, the FIA may struggle to repay since it transferred the proceeds of the fine to a motor industry charity. Ironically, the future of the FIA could be in McLaren's hands.

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