Glasgow 2014

Contracts, contracts & more contracts

It's a little known, but frequently highlighted fact that badminton is the fastest sport in the world. But while a shuttlecock can reach a top speed of 262mph, they don't just appear out of thin air.

Every single piece of sporting equipment used at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games - from shuttlecocks to javelins, barbells to judo mats - had to be procured by the Organising Committee, and our lawyers were there to help make sure that the badminton players weren't swinging at thin air when the competition got underway.

And if they were fortunate enough to hit the shuttlecock more than any other player, then they deserved a gold medal for their efforts. Once again, we advised on the procurement contract which saw award-winning Glasgow School of Art graduate Jonathan Mathew Boyd provide the event's iconic medals.

Every single step towards staging the Games, every single piece of equipment or service to be supplied was governed by a contract – and there were hundreds of them. Thankfully, our lawyers were on hand to help mastermind the process.

Glasgow 2014 didn't just learn lessons from the London 2012 Olympics, our lawyers advised in the negotiations with LOCOG over the use of some of the assets from the London 2012 Olympics at the Commonwealth Games.

I would have been all over the Games regardless of being involved behind the scenes, but there was an added dimension knowing exactly what was involved. You see people enjoying themselves at the Games and think how we were a part of making that happen.

James McMorrow, Partner, Harper Macleod

What we did

Complexity and scale

The delivery of legal services to Glasgow 2014 was unique due to the scale and complexity of the project, the spectrum of requirements and the speed and urgency with which contracts had to be agreed and then dissolved.

There were no second chances: the Opening Ceremony would take place on 23 July regardless, nearly 5000 athletes and 1 million spectators would be ready, even if we weren't. Failure or delay was not an option. That meant we had to find solutions rather than simply identify problems. Where there was potential for dispute, it was up to us to reach agreements. Where time was of the essence, we had to think on our feet.

Thank goodness we were on our game.

Our team, made up of specialists in Banking & Finance, Corporate, Public Sector and Sports law advised on the full range of complex commercial contracts including supplier agreements, advising on public procurement and competition law matters. The areas involved touch on every aspect of the Games, including: transport and logistics, catering, cleaning, waste, security and radio communications.

From bog standard to brilliant

Some of the contracts our lawyers handled with the team at the OC include:

The security arrangements for Glasgow 2014 were unique and complex in the sense that the OC opted for multiple providers of security services all working in collaboration (as opposed to one single provider, as is the usual practice in such large events) to avoid a single point of failure and taking on board the lessons learnt from the London 2012 Olympics.

It's the kind of thing nobody likes to mention, let alone think about. But we had to. Around one million spectators attended Glasgow 2014 events, and while they brought millions to the Scottish economy, they also needed to spend a penny! The toilet pump out contract was one bit of legalese that doesn't require much explanation, but was essential to the smooth running of the Games. Aren't you glad working on that contract was our job?

We advised on a wide range of sponsorship deals for Glasgow 2014, dealing with major global brands. This included the procurement of contracts and related sponsorship agreements with BP, Emirates, Ford, Longines, SSE and Virgin Media.

Athletes have to eat, some more than others. It was good to know that the food that fuelled champions helped reach their plates thanks to us. We advised on the catering agreement for the Athletes' Village which resulted in a dining tent that had to be seen to be believed. We also advised on the catering and cleaning agreements for all competition venues.

Competition Law – the other rules of the Games

Our procurement experts also played a vital role in steering a course through the contractual and regulatory provisions needed to get to the starting line, then through to the finish line.

Sports have rules, lots of them. Stay in your lane, don't swing your hockey stick above your head, don't punch below the belt. But by and large we leave it to the stewards, referees and umpires to make sure the competition is fair.

Major global sporting events such as the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games also have to abide by rules, such as how contracts are awarded when there is public money at stake. We used our experience of dealing with complex competition law issues to advise the Organising Committee of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on matters such as the procurement of security arrangements for the Games.

 

Business as usual

Although this was like nothing we'd ever done before, we are used to making good things happen for our clients. The capabilities which have made us one of the country's leading law firms and advisers to many of its leading businesses, organisations and individuals, were the ones we turned to in delivering for Glasgow 2014. Our lawyers might not ever make it onto a podium, but they could make sure that the athletes at the Commonwealth Games did.

In that sense, it was 'business as usual' – with shuttlecocks.

James McMorrow

Primarily responsible for advising Glasgow 2014 on procurement and regulatory work, along with commercial contracts.

James said: "In terms of interest and profile, advising Glasgow 2014 is likely to be a professional experience that won't be matched in my career. It was extremely intense at times, particularly as the Games approached, and there were days when everything had to be done at the same time.

"One moment from the Games themselves sticks in my mind and encapsulates the whole experience. I remember coming out of Hampden Park on the night of the 100m semi-finals. We had been in a box next to colleagues from Glasgow 2014 and during the evening's athletics found ourselves discussing how incredible it was to see everything we'd worked on come together in this way, knowing all the moving parts that are involved.

"As we left the venue my wife commented to me on how she felt the experience had been seamless. You applied for your tickets online, they got supplied by a courier, you went to the website and found the best way to get to the venue, you got on the train, you went through security and found your seat then went and got a hotdog, watched the athletics and then embarked on the same journey in reverse.

"It was great to be able to explain how there were probably more than 100 contracts that had underpinned her spectator experience, and worked together to make it seem so smooth".

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