HOCKEY LAW IS COMPLICATED!

Two standard hockey pucks

Two standard hockey pucks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As every one knows, the 2012 lockout in the NHL, brought with it, its own set of  legal issues. However, to grab the subtlety involved in the different notions of law that the lockout is crossing, one must have a solid  and specialized legal knowledge in (international and national) sport laws.

Why?

Because  they are  so many  legal challenges that one has to consider at the same time.

To summarize quite simplistically some major legal issues, here are some examples:

Just to begin with, several jurisdictions are involved in the story:  Canadian federal laws, provincial legislation in Canada, including the Quebec, federal U.S. laws and American States laws (NY, Florida, Arizona, etc.).

Thus a nice mix of french inherited civil law and the common law. Not to mention the case  laws of these different instances, that in some cases flatly contradict each other!

Then , you have also to deal with several branches of law such as contract law, competition law, labor law, intellectual property and of course fundamental rights of the person as protected in Quebec’s Charter of rights, as an example.Just for a moment, lets look at , the first section of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which reads:

‘Every human being has the right to life and to personal security, inviolability and freedom of the person.’

The debate of the Charter on the free movement of hockey players is not, in my opinion,  yet closed. A huge  pandora-type of challenge.This same debate may even lead us to question the status of ‘worker/employee’ that is given so easily to hockey players.

And what if hockey players  were just not employees but rather joint venture partners of their teams and the league?

In such a case, labor laws would not apply. Contract law would. Thus wide opening the door to complaints to the Competition Bureau of Canada (and the U.S.). In other words, serious anti-trust issues, which everybody knows could take years to get resolved.
I’ll stop here to save you hundreds of pages of barren reading which could be the subject of a master’s degree in law!

However, should you be interested in this matter, I strongly suggest  the following paper  from sportingnews NHL (but be aware, it covers only  the US side of the story).

NHL lockout: Why Decertification is a gamble That Could take years.

To read the article click here

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