The arbitration of the dispute between Ms Ntambi Ravele and Mr Barry Hendricks relating to him having allegedly conspired with the President of Tennis SA, Mr Gavin Crookes to prejudice her from standing for election for the SASCOC Presidency, has reached an advanced stage of finalisation.
The arbitrator was about to hand down his award when Ms Ravele complained that the SASCOC attorneys conducted themselves unethically during the proceedings, an act that was prejudicial to her case. From the start, SASCOC made it clear that it will not get involved in the merits of the arbitration and will adopt a neutral stance throughout the proceedings. This was until the arbitrator requested SASCOC to address him on whether SASCOC had jurisdiction to determine the dispute in terms of its dispute resolutions mechanisms and whether the dispute before him was capable of being resolved through arbitration.
SASCOC’s attorneys were mandated to only present evidence and argument to support jurisdiction and the arbitrability of the dispute in line with the provisions of the SASCOC Constitution.
It was only after all evidence was led and closing arguments placed before the arbitrator that Ms Ravele complained to SASCOC that its attorneys overstepped their mandate and became steeped in the merits of the dispute between the parties.
SASCOC’S erstwhile attorneys conceded in a letter to the arbitrator, Adv Freund SC, that they were instructed to remain neutral and had given SASCOC a written undertaking that they would not get involved in the merits of the dispute but had entered the fray and made submissions on the merits of the dispute.
SASCOC was compelled to conduct an investigation into their attorneys’ behavior and their preliminary findings confirmed that not only did the attorneys not abide by their mandate, but they actively participated in all aspects of the proceedings and more importantly, cross examined Ms Ravele at length regarding her complaint and even submitted in closing argument that her evidence ought not to be relied upon to find merit in the complaint against Mr Hendricks. Their mandate was immediately terminated by SASCOC who instantly appointed a new firm of attorneys to rectify the position and remove any prejudice to any of the parties on account of the erstwhile attorney’s untoward conduct.
Representations were made to the arbitrator appraising him of the prejudicial conduct of the attorneys towards the parties to the dispute and seeking the arbitration proceedings to be abandoned, and for a new arbitration process before another arbitrator to be convened and for the dispute to be determined afresh. Ms Ravele, through her attorneys have since confirmed that she has no objection to the request by SASCOC but Mr Hendricks contends that the arbitrator has not conducted himself in an unfair manner and that he should hand down his award.
The arbitrator has, accordingly, called for a meeting between the parties to the dispute and SASCOC’s new attorneys, next Wednesday 24 June 2020, where submissions should be made as to why his award should not be handed down.
SASCOC has given notice that, should the need arise, are prepared to make an application to the High Court to set aside the arbitration proceedings that took place, simply to ensure that all parties to the dispute were given a fair hearing