Wilberforce kicks off Leeds arbitration against Football League

Commercial and chancery set Wilberforce Chambers will tomorrow (16 April) kick-off arbitration proceedings for Leeds United FC against the Football League.

The football club is contesting the league’s decisions to dock Leeds an unprecedented 15 points for failing to follow the competition’s insolvency rules when it came out of administration.

The points losses came after Leeds had already been hit by an automatic 10-point deduction for going into administration, which led to the club dropping from the Championship to League One.

The league is expected to argue that it imposed the additional penalty because it believed Leeds had breached its rules by selling the club to a new company without a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in place with its creditors.

This would mean Leeds had no binding agreements with its creditors detailing how the company’s debts and liabilities would be dealt with.

However the league did allow the transfer of the golden share – a nominal share that is able to outvote all other shares – to the new company, which has allowed the club to play this season.

It is believed that Leeds United will argue that as a result of this authorisation the additional points penalty on the new company is not compliant with company law.

Both parties have agreed that the dispute will be settled by arbitration, following an initial hearing in the High Court.

Tomorrow’s arbitration proceedings are entirely confidential and all parties have declined to comment. The hearing is expected to last three days, with a ruling being given before the end of the football season in May.

David Phillips QC and Nikki Singla, both of Wilberforce Chambers, have been instructed by sole practitioner and Leeds director Mark Taylor for the football club.

Bird & Bird partner Jonathan Taylor will represent the Football League, having instructed lead counsel Stephen Davies of Bristol-based Guildhall Chambers with Adam Lewis of Blackstone Chambers.