The Pechstein case: Transnational constitutionalism in inaction at the Bundesgerichtshof

How independent is the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or the international sport governing bodies (SGB) in general? This question was at the heart of the Pechstein case before the German Federal Court (BGH). The BGH considers that the CAS is a true arbitral tribunal in the sense of German civil procedural law and that it is not structurally imbalanced in favour of the SGBs. In this blog post, I will aim at critically unpacking and deconstructing the four arguments the decision is based on, one by one.

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Der BGH und Pechstein: Transnationaler Konstitutionalismus sieht anders aus

Der Fall Pechstein hätte dem BGH die Möglichkeit eröffnet, die ungleichen Machtstrukturen im professionellen Sport einer effektiven und unabhängigen Kontrolle zu unterziehen und die weitreichende Macht der Sportverbände zu begrenzen. Diese Möglichkeit ließ der BGH ungenutzt verstreichen. Frau Pechstein hat bereits angekündigt, sich an das Bundesverfassungsgericht wenden zu wollen. Es steht zu erwarten, dass die verfassungsrechtliche Komponente ihres Falles dort deutlicher zur Geltung kommen wird.

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The Pechstein case: Transnational constitutionalism in action at the Bundesgerichtshof

Constitutional review is not anymore exclusively located where we would traditionally expect it: in national constitutional courts. Functional equivalents to constitutional review play out in various courts as a new legal game of power and counter-power shapes up for the global age. Sport, broadly speaking, is a fruitful field to study the transnationalization of law. I propose to put on constitutional lenses to analyse the current case pitching speed skater Claudia Pechstein against the International Skating Union (ISU) in front of the Bundesgerichtshof.

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