Defence solicitors in sports law

Sports law – how we can help

Hempsons’ team of experienced sports defence lawyers is equipped to advise institutional and individual clients in an amateur or professional sport setting. With our extensive experience of regulatory and other litigation defence, we can assist with representation before governing bodies, disciplinary panels, selection and funding committees, sports-related arbitration and personal injury litigation.

Examples of Hempsons’ sports defence experience

High profile cases

  • In 2004 our sports defence lawyers represented Dennis Wise, former captain of Chelsea Football Club, with regard to an alleged incident which occurred during a pre-season tour by whilst he was employed by Leicester City FC. In due course, Mr Wise was dismissed by the club, and we represented him, assisted by Counsel, at the internal disciplinary hearing and subsequent appeal, together with Employment Tribunal Proceedings, which led to a determination that Mr Wise was unfairly dismissed.
  • We assisted and advised a doctor involved in a high-profile sporting incident, in regard to the termination of employment by Trust.  An out of court settlement was agreed.
  • Carneiro v Chelsea Football Club/Mourinhowe represented Dr Eva Carneiro in her claim for unfair dismissal against Chelsea Football Club. Working with Mary O’Rourke QC, We were able to secure an out of court settlement for Dr Carneiro.
  • Advising and assisting a healthcare professional employed by a national governing body, in the context of an international anti-doping investigation, including advice in regard to and attendance at an interview, and a request to attend a DCMS parliamentary committee hearing.
  • Advice and assistance to a doctor employed by a national governing body in relation to a UK Anti-Doping Investigation, DCMS parliamentary committee inquiries and evidence, as well as a subsequent GMC investigation.
  • Representation of an individual who was questioned as part of the USADA, UKAD and UK Athletics investigation into allegations of doping raised in the media about Alberto Salazar (Mo Farah’s coach) and the Nike Oregon Project.

Sport Resolutions pro bono panel

Sport Resolutions (SR) is an independent, not-for-profit dispute resolution service for sport based in the UK. In the lead-up to the London Olympics in 2012, SR established a pro bono legal advice and representation service, which provides access to a panel of sports defence lawyers who assist individuals with matters conducted by Sport Resolutions panels and other national governing body tribunals. We have been a member of that panel since 2012 and our sports defence lawyers have assisted a number of individuals, examples of which include:

  • Para athlete – advice given in regard to Paralympic deselection issues;
  • Referee – advice and representation in challenging a national governing body, following revocation of a refereeing licence. We assisted with consideration of “out of time” appeal;
  • Paralympic athlete – advice and assistance following deselection from a national programme;
  • Weightlifter – advice and assistance in regard to anti-doping rule violations;
  • Coach – advice and representation in challenging a national governing body proposal to withdraw a national coaching licence for safeguarding reasons, before a Sport Resolutions panel. Proposal successfully resisted.
  • Volunteer – advice and assistance to a participant in local administration of national sport, challenged through the National Governing Bodies processes.
  • Winter Olympics athlete – advice and assistance regarding non-selection in a national programme, and health issues.

Personal injury litigation

Hempsons’ sports defence lawyers have considerable experience of defending sports-related claims. This has meant defending clients from a wide range of different sporting disciplines, including football coaches, fencing coaches, amateur wrestlers, judo instructors, diving instructors, leisure centres and many others.

Our sports personal injury defence lawyers have successfully defended several cases all the way to trial and are well-equipped to defend any sport-related personal injury claim.

Medical malpractice/clinical negligence claims

As part of our wider experience of defending clinical negligence claims, our sports defence lawyers have defended doctors in a sporting context. Examples include:

  • Defending a part-time medical officer at a Premiership Football Club in relation to a court claim for alleged clinical negligence (failure to advise/failure to refer).
  • Defending a doctor employed by a Premiership Football Club in relation to allegations of failing to screen adequately and treat an academy player suffering from a serious underlying disorder. A court claim was made against various healthcare employees of the Premiership Club, and independent healthcare professionals.


Simon Eastwood has shared a particular interest with Mary O’Rourke QC in relation to the role and duties of doctors undertaking healthcare duties in a sporting context, and several of the above cases have been undertaken with Miss O’Rourke QC as Counsel. Simon Eastwood delivered a lecture in relation to these issues to the Medical Equestrian Association, in November 2017.

  • Chambers UK 2016
    ““[Simon is] a vigorous and effective advocate” who is “very able and thorough.” “He continues to be highly regarded for his representation of healthcare practitioners."”
  • Chambers UK 2017
    “[Simon has] robust advice combined with tactical awareness and a good client manner. He is well regarded in the marketplace for his representation of medical professionals facing disciplinary proceedings.
  • Chambers UK 2018
    “He’s very experienced and knows the regulation of medical professionals inside out. He’s very thorough and very knowledgeable.”
  • Chambers UK 2020
    “Simon Eastwood is a standout lawyer who is well known for defending healthcare professionals before the GDC and GMC. Sources say: “He is hugely experienced. What he doesn’t know about regulatory work isn’t worth knowing.”
  • 2016
    “Friendly, unpretentious and prepared to work hard to achieve results.”