Olswang takes British Horseracing Board reins for review of funding

Following November’s landmark European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment, the British Horseracing Board (BHB) has ordered an urgent review of horseracing funding, with Olswang partner David Zeffman selected to the four-person panel.

Zeffman will provide legal input to the review group, which is headed by Lord Donoughue and also includes Rodney Brack (Levy Board chief executive) and Patrick Nixon (Bookmakers’ Committee secretary).

This is Zeffman’s first instruction from the BHB, although he has a long history in the betting and gaming industry, with clients such as Ladbrokes and racecourse owner Northern Racing. Zeffman also advised Atthe-races on its television rights litigation and contracts.

The ECJ judgment of BHB v William Hill shook the racing world when it found that William Hill had not infringed the BHB’s database rights.
The BHB has lobbied hard for the statutory Levy Board to be abolished and to be replaced by the licensing of data on a commercial basis. The Government had accepted this and the Levy Board was due to be abolished in September 2006. Since the ECJ curtailed the scope of protection of the database right, the whole funding of UK horseracing has been thrown into doubt.

The review group will return its report to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by March 2005. It must decide whether the most appropriate form of action is to delay the abolition of the Levy Board or propose an alternative means of funding.