White & Case wins football rules case

SJ Berwin lined up against White & Case for the biggest football litigation since the Bosman ruling overturned the player transfer market.

UK-based sports and entertainment investment company English National Investment Company (ENIC), the owner of football clubs AEK Athens and Slavia Prague, retained SJ Berwin to challenge UEFA rules. The rules of the European football governing body prevents football club owners from controlling more than one team in the UEFA club competition.

But the Lausanne Court of Arbitration for Sport found in favour of UEFA, which was advised by US firm White & Case.

Alasdair Bell, White & Case's London head of competition, who led a team of London and Brussels-based lawyers, says: “We think it is a good common sense result taking reasonable steps to avoid conflict of interest situations.”

The SJ Berwin team was headed by London-based partner Stephen Kon. Assistant solicitor Tom Usher was made a partner while awaiting the judgment. Michael Beloff QC and Tim Kerr of 4-5 Grays Inn Square were employed as counsel.

Both sides used local counsel for Swiss civil law aspects.