Name a sport and the chances are that we advise its individual competitors, clubs, governing body – or maybe all three.
Scotland’s leading team for sports law advice
Recognised as Scotland’s leading sports law firm for more than 25 years, we advise on every aspect of the law as it relates to the sporting world.
From individual disciplinary matters to multi-million-pound commercial contracts, we offer a complete service – the fact that we were appointed as Official Legal Advisers to both the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and the 2014 Commonwealth Games is a testament to that.
Sport is a bigger business than ever before and the issues faced by those operating in the sector are numerous and complex. What happens off the field of play is intrinsically linked to what happens in the arena, in competition and at grassroots.
We share our clients’ passion for sport and work in partnership with them to combine this deep knowledge and understanding with the commercial approach we are renowned for.
Our Sports Law team brings together a number of dedicated sports law specialists and recognised market leaders, including Scotland’s only Eminent Practitioner in Sports Law, Professor Lorne Crerar. The team advises in every aspect of sports law for the highest profile international federations and national governing bodies, tournament organisers, sports clubs, sports people and sports representatives.
In particular, we are highly experienced in advising on issues arising at local, national and international levels. We understand that effective project management is often essential in sports law matters as the inter-dependent nature of different operational work streams means that legal advice must be joined up and demonstrate an understanding of how issues arising in one area may affect delivery in other areas.
Retained by a stellar and wide-ranging roster of international federations, national governing bodies, tournament organisers, sports clubs, prominent sportspeople and sports representatives, Harper Macleod LLP possesses an enviable reputation in the sports law arena.
Key sports services
The group provides a complete service and has unrivalled experience in niche areas including:
– Broadcasting agreements, both traditional and new media
– Charity law
– Child protection and protection of vulnerable adults
|– Litigation and dispute resolution (in civil courts & sporting tribunals)|
– On- and off-field disciplinary issues
– Player/athlete eligibility
– Property law
– Protection and exploitation of intellectual property rights
– Regulatory governance and constitutional issues
– Representation before sports tribunals, mediation and the Court
of Arbitration for Sport
– Reputation management
– Restructuring and mergers of governing bodies
– Sponsorship agreements, partnership agreements and advertising
– Sporting governance
– Sporting integrity
– Ticketing arrangements
– Tournament / event regulation including participation agreements
– Use of trusts, SCIOs, charities and fund-raising in sport
Our experience spans the full spectrum of sports including football, rugby, tennis, cricket, judo, skiing, ice hockey, golf, karate, angling, triathlon, bowling, strength athletics, swimming, shinty, archery and many more.
Our team has unrivalled experience in relation to advising on high profile international sporting competitions based in Scotland:
- Appointed the sole legal advisors to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Glasgow 2018 European Championships
- Advising UEFA in relation to the 2020 EURO Championships, creating the “blueprint” and “platinum standard” in relation to certain host city issues, to roll out across all host cities in the 2020 Championships which took place across multiple European cities in multiple territories
- Advising on the Enduro World Series mountain bike events
- Advising on the inaugural 2023 World Cycling Championships
- Appointed as the solicitors to Rugby World Cup 2015 to handle all brand protection matters in Scotland and appointed to the Discipline Panel dealing with all on and off field disciplinary issues
- Being the only firm in Scotland to have been appointed to London 2012 and the Ryder Cup 2014
- Providing in-house legal support to Culture and Sport Glasgow, operating as Glasgow Life, in relation to the World Gymnastics Championships 2015, Gymnastics World Cup 2016 British Swimming Championships 2016 and British Para-Swimming International Meet 2016, Homeless World Cup 2016, Tour of Britain 2016, Badminton World Federation Championships 2017 , European Indoor Athletics Championships 2019
As sole legal advisers to sportscotland’s expert resource group, we advise numerous SGBs on the broadest possible range of legal issues, including investigations, regulatory matters, compliance, complex cross-border commercial contracts, safeguarding, doping, discipline, IP, employment, immigration, litigation, equalities, data use, funding, construction, partnership arrangements, Brexit-impacted travel and COVID-related problems, trusts, property use and ownership for sports events and stadia.
We continue to assist the wider sporting community and supported the annual conference for clubs, in the Clubsport Scotland Conference 2021, with our solicitors sharing learning and offering insights into future developments in sports law areas. We also have long standing relationships with Glasgow Warriors and Highland Rugby Club (HRFC), providing support to HRFC’s grass roots development programme through sponsorship of their development staff.
We were the first people in Scotland to specialise in sports law, and have been leading the way since 1992, with more individuals based in sport than any other firm.
Professor Lorne Crerar CBE FRSE, Chairman of Harper Macleod, is a former Chairman of the European Rugby Cup Tournament (EPCR) and was also a Judicial Officer at four Rugby World Cups and part of the judicial team at the inaugural Rugby 7s tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics. For over 20 years he was Chairman of the Discipline Panels for the SRU, European Rugby Cup and 6Nations, standing down from these roles at the end of season 2016/17. He was an IRB “elite judge” and was also the Judicial Officer for the Rugby World Cup Finals in both 2015 and 2011.
In July 2017, the Scottish Rugby Board awarded Lorne ‘Emeritus’ status on the Scottish Rugby Discipline Panel – the first time anyone had been granted that honour – in recognition of his ‘tremendous service to the game’.
Bruce Caldow is the National Team solicitor for the Scottish Rugby Union and is also a legal chairman for the SFA judicial panel.
Carolyn Morgan is Honorary legal adviser to Commonwealth Games Scotland and Head of the Scottish Gymnastics Conduct in Sport Panel.
Tom Thomas advises high-profile sporting organisations on headline sponsorship and broadcast agreements for both domestic and foreign territories. He advised on the Host Broadcaster agreement for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“In my opinion Bruce is second to none in his knowledge of sports law.”
“Bruce Caldow is very personable and very knowledgeable.”
“Retained by a stellar and wide-ranging roster of international federations, national governing bodies, tournament organisers, sports clubs, prominent sportspeople and sports representatives, Harper Macleod LLP possesses an enviable reputation in the sports law arena. “
“Spearheaded by Bruce Caldow, the team handles matters emanating from all kinds of sports, with particular strength in regulatory and constitutional issues, event staging, commercial contracts, litigation and dispute resolution, disciplinary issues, anti-doping work, licensing mandates, insurance work and child safeguarding mandates. Tom Thomas excels in work at the intersection of IP and sports law, including broadcasting and sponsorship instructions.
“Exceptional group of lawyers receiving regular instructions from the biggest names in Scottish and international sport. Trusted to advise on regulatory, disciplinary, contentious and commercial matters, including broadcasting agreements and anti-doping. Handles work for national governing bodies in football, rugby and swimming. Acts for organisers, clubs and individuals on prominent sporting events and tournaments in Scotland. Assists with matters affecting sport at all levels, from elite professional competition to grassroots youth and amateur involvement.”
“Bruce Caldow is regarded as one of the foremost sports law experts in Scotland, with a number of major sporting organisations calling upon his abilities in both contentious and non-contentious mandates across the UK.”
“Lorne Crerar serves as chair of Harper Macleod and possesses a noteworthy reputation for advising on legal issues arising in rugby. He is held in considerably high esteem for his expertise in disciplinary matters.”