Two riders, who had officially sued the Belgian Equestrian Federation for not being nominated to compete at the 2017 World Young Horse Championships, have lost their case. The court ruled in favour of the Royal Belgian Equestrian Federation (KBRSF).
The KBRSF, represented by lawyer Eugeen De Ridder, was sued for not nominating two riders who had achieved the necessary qualification scores to make it to Ermelo. However, last minute changes to the rules by the KBRSF dressage committee resulted in different riders getting nominated.
Rider Philippe Jorissen (with his horse Miss Dior van den Bruel) and owner Gerlinde Lauwers (representing her horse Laura Ashley, ridden by Gert Helsen) filed a suit in an interlocutory proceeding.
After winning the court case, the KBRSF issued the following statement:
Last weeks we could read on social media and certain specialized press extensive comments on the decision of the national dressage committee of July 10, 2017 that was published on www.equibel.be July 17, 2017 concerning the upcoming World breeding dressage Championships for young horses in Ermelo – The Netherlands, where Belgium selected 2 combinations in each category (5Y-6Y-7Y).
It is an underestimation to say that these comments were negative. KBRSF in general and above all the national dressage committee were reproached that their way of selecting would be a farce and it would demonstrate the ignorance of the federation; the selection was a mess, the selection criteria would have been modified at the last moment, apparently with the intention of favouring certain combinations.
KBRSF does not have the habit, not in the past or in the future, to conduct such discussions through social media or the internet; nor does the federation have the intention to speak at inappropriate moments.
Now that every associated athlete (and even the owner of a horse) has the right to contest a decision, whether it concerns a selection or disciplinary measure, KBRSF has loyally contributed to the procedures that were initiated and which aimed to destroy the decisions of July 10, 2017.
A combination with a 5-year-old horse, assisted by the owner, chose to sue the federation before the President of the Court of First Instance in Brussels, residing in a brief case; a combination with a 6-year-old horse, also assisted by the owner, chose to direct himself to the Belgian Arbitration Court for Sport. Both parties said to be wrongly excluded from the selection.
KBRSF may not be strong in attacking, but it has thoroughly defended the decision of its selection committee towards both judicial authorities, which have independently judged. At the Court and the Arbitration Court KBRSF explained which regulations preceded (F.E.I.) - and how the own selection criteria were applied taking into account the clear Guidelines of the highest organ in equestrian sport.
The result is now known and in both cases the Belgian Arbitration Court for Sport (decision of 27 July 2017) and the Court of Justice in Brussels (judgment of 28 July 2017) judged in favour of the federation; in both cases, the claim of the relevant combinations / owners was rejected as unfounded. In both cases they were sentenced to pay court costs.
In both cases the motivation of the decisions of the civil Court and of the Belgian Arbitration Court of Sport are known; both decisions teach that the national dressage committee executed in a correct manner both the Guidelines of the F.E.I. and its own selection criteria, and that no combination has been put at a disadvantage.
KBRSF wishes all combinations, both selected and not selected, all sporting successes for the future, but regrets the way in which certain athletes and certain so-called professional press have exaggerated in expressing insults and suspicions. No one has the victory for one opinion and everyone is entitled to his / her opinion, but some correctness is in place.
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