FIFA has been given the green light to retake control of the the T&T Football Association (TTFA).
Delivering a judgement during a virtual hearing, yesterday afternoon, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judge Nolan Bereaux ruled that the lawsuit, brought by embattled TTFA president William Wallace and his United TTFA executive team, contravened the TTFA's constitution.
The decision means that FIFA is free to reintroduce the normalisation committee which they replaced Wallace and his team with in March.
With such a move, FIFA may also chose to lift the TTFA's indefinite suspension, which it applied after Wallace and his team failed to withdraw the lawsuit by its extended ultimatum in September.
FIFA has previously indicated that the lifting of the suspension was contingent on the withdrawal of the lawsuit and modification of the TTFA's legislation and Constitution to prevent similar legal action in the future, however, based on the Appeal Court's findings the latter may be unnecessary.
Wallace and his team may still have a life line if they desire to pursue the case to its fullest as they can still appeal the Court of Appeal's ruling to the Privy Council.
They are also free to pursue a case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Bereaux, who wrote the substantive judgement, noted that the Constitution prescribes that all disputes between the TTFA and FIFA should be dealt with by the CAS.
"The fact that such a provision is enshrined in the TTFA's Constitution means that the TTFA and its executive are bound to comply. The result is that the filing of these proceedings was a breach of the TTFA's Constitution," Bereaux said.
He also said that High Court Judge Carol Gobin, who heard the case despite FIFA's jurisdictional protest and found in Wallace and his team's favour, was wrong to rule that the FIFA's Statutes, which deal with the appointment of normalisation committees to member federations, were inconsistent with the Act of Parliament, which incorporated the TTFA.
Bereaux said the legislation gave the TTFA the power to adopt FIFA's laws and policies in its Constitution.
"Having made its choice and having bound itself by its own Constitution to comply, it cannot now act outside of its provisions," Bereaux said, as he ruled that the CAS was the more appropriate forum as it is comprised of sporting experts.
Bureaux also stated that Gobin should have stayed the case, as requested by FIFA, and referred it to arbitration.
While Archie merely gave his nod to Bereaux's written judgement, he decided to weigh in on Gobin's handling of the case.
"It was neither prudent case management nor an economical deployment of judicial time and resources to attempt to finally determine the substantive issues and to deliver a judgement less than a week before the scheduled hearing of the interlocutory appeal...Zeal is commendable but it must not obscure the need for caution," Archie said.
In the judgement, the Appeal Court also ruled that the litigation contravened the Judiciary's Civil Proceedings Rules as it was served on FIFA via email, when Swiss law does not permit such a method for service of a lawsuit.
Despite the ruling, Bereaux said that Wallace did have the authority of the bring the case as all that was required was the approval of the board.
In addition to declaring Gobin's judgement null and void, the Appeal Court also ordered Wallace and his team to pay FIFA's legal costs for defending the lawsuit.
Wallace and his colleagues were represented by Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crystal Paul, and Jason Jones, while Christopher Hamel-Smith, SC, Jonathan Walker, and Cherie Gopie appeared for FIFA.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian