Peers and clients say:
"I regularly see Claude in a lot of high profile cases"
"He's an excellent name in Switzerland and is very efficient".
Claude Ramoni (PhD in law) is a Swiss qualified attorney-at-law, partner of the Swiss law firm Libra Law, in Lausanne. Claude Ramoni advises and represents national and international sports federations, national Olympic committees, clubs and athletes before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, legal bodies of international federations and Swiss courts in various areas, with specific focuses on anti-doping, disciplinary, governance and contractual matters. Claude Ramoni currently serves on the UEFA Appeals Body and lectures in numerous master programmes.
How has your role as a sports lawyer changed since you started your career?
I started my career in a large law firm advising mainly large sport institutions. When I joined Libra Law almost 15 years ago, I “changed sides” and most of my clients were athletes or clubs. Now, I continue to advise athletes and clubs, but also several sporting organisations, both national bodies and international federations. Advising this variation of clients allows me to truly understand the issues, and to better assess the possible solutions.
What further steps can be taken to ensure that arbitration professionals are more comfortable using arbitration hosting platforms and other technology increasingly used in the space?
The covid-19 crisis forced arbitration institutions such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport to implement an efficient e-filing system, and to generalise the organisation of online hearings. This clearly increases the efficiency of procedures in an international environment.
With the controversy over UEFA preventing Germany from lighting the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours, do you think international sporting events will continue to try and prevent athlete activism? Does there need to be reform in this area?
Sporting bodies are facing a dilemma. Sport and sport events are used to promote universal values such as the fight against racism, promotion of women in sport, etc.
At the same time, sport and politics should remain separate to allow all athletes to compete under the same conditions, without discrimination, in a level-playing field.
For as long as the athlete’s activism remains in compliance with the obligation of neutrality that must govern international sport, I do not see any reason to prevent athletes from expressing their opinion.
There is a great deal of discussion around salary caps in professional football. Are these possible and desirable to implement? What issues surround implementation?
I do not think so.
Professional football is an open market, and I do not see why the liberty of clubs and players to agree on the remuneration they deem fit should be limited. Swiss law governs football disputes before the CAS, in case of appeals against FIFA decisions. Under Swiss law, there is no salary cap, and it is not usual in Switzerland to put such limitation on the parties’ economic freedom.
What has been the most significant development in sports law since you started practising?
20 years ago, sporting regulations were quite simple; the initial philosophy of the Court of Arbitration for Sport was to offer to the sport market an efficient and simple way to solve disputes.
Nowadays, cases are much more complex than before. Regulations have evolved and are more sophisticated in almost all areas. Clients therefore need specialised advice and competences. It is no longer possible for a general practitioner to act before sporting bodies.
Looking back over your career, what is the most interesting sports case you have been a part of, and why?
Very recently, I have been involved in several cases before the CAS ad hoc division at the Olympic Games, including a high-profile doping case. The difficult task was to develop a complex legal argumentation aiming at convincing a CAS panel that there was a lacuna in the World Anti-Doping Code, to be duly filled-in by the panel by interpreting the regulations, in the context of a procedure that lasted not more than 48 hours, under the heavy pressure of the athlete having to know if she could compete on the following day. Before the CAS ad hoc division, deadlines to file submissions are usually less than 24 hours, implying that lawyers need to work quickly and focus on the essential arguments only.
What professional challenges are you expecting to encounter over the next few years, and how do you expect to navigate them?
Decisions by sporting bodies are, in my view, more and more driven by political considerations, in a world where communication and public perception is the centre of all attentions.
Sport lawyers need to take this aspect into consideration. It is no longer sufficient to focus on the legal issues; the public perception of any decision by a sporting body or of an athlete’s behaviour needs to be duly assessed, as sometimes a press campaign clearly has more impact than any court decision.
You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far – what else would you like to achieve?
There has been an incredible development of sporting regulations and institutions in the last 25 years. I would be very pleased to continue my contribution to improving the system, implying allowing all members of the sporting community to have access to quick, efficient, cheap, specialised and independent dispute resolution bodies, applying clear and predictable regulations. Several sporting structures and regulations require reforms to better serve the sporting community.