As the sports regulatory body, it is the BHA’s responsibility to ensure the highest levels of integrity in racing.
By fulfilling its role, the BHA encourages the honest majority to do the right thing, and prevents the dishonest minority from gaining an unfair advantage, thus ensuring a level playing field for all.
During 2016, the BHA published the findings of an Integrity Review which confirmed a good level of integrity continues to exist and is perceived to exist within British horseracing. The review identified a need to review the BHA’s disciplinary structure and to further improve some aspects of operational delivery in order to maintain and increase the effectiveness of our integrity function.
Following the conduct of the Integrity Review, Christopher Quinlan QC, an independent expert in the field of sports regulation and governance, was appointed to conduct an independent review of the BHA’s Disciplinary Panel, Appeal Board and Licensing Committee. Mr Quinlan found the BHA’s current disciplinary system to be legally robust and fair and made a number of recommendations to bring the BHA’s approach in line with best practice in sports governance and to increase confidence amongst participants and stakeholders.
The BHA Board accepted all of Mr Quinlan’s recommendations, some of which endorse those made in the Integrity Review. The main recommendations included:
- Creating a new role of Judicial Panel Chairman who will be the independent head of the BHA’s quasi-judicial functions and will be responsible for the Disciplinary Panel, Licensing Committee and Appeal Board, and the appointment, training and mentoring of members
- Merging the Licensing Committee with the Disciplinary Panel to form a single disciplinary group under the leadership of the Judicial Panel Chairman
- Ensuring that each Disciplinary Panel and Licensing Committee hearing is chaired by a legally-qualified member, in the interests of fairness to all parties
- Preventing raceday stewards from serving on the Disciplinary Panel while they remain active on the racecourse. Active raceday stewards will continue to serve on the Appeal Board and the Licensing Committee as that does not involve them adjudicating on the decisions of fellow stewards
- Extending the remit of the Appeal Board so that it can, in exceptional cases, offer a de novo hearing (i.e. ‘start afresh’ with a rehearing) when considering an appeal against the decision of the Disciplinary Panel or the Licensing Committee.
Fast Track Protocol
The objective of the fast track protocol is to increase efficiency within the BHA’s Regulatory function and resolve applicable cases in a swifter manner and with less of an impact on resources and cost for the BHA and participants involved.
The introduction of the protocol was recommended by both the Integrity Review in early 2016 and the review undertaken by Christopher Quinlan QC later that year.
Common occurrences such as failure to notify gelding operations, and breaches concerning vaccination, passport and identity checks are examples of the types of cases which may be accelerated, although each case’s suitability will be judged on an individual basis.
Fast tracked cases are then concluded administratively by an independent Disciplinary Panel, without the need of an oral hearing or any participants to travel and incur additional costs.
Handling cases in this manner will also free up resource within the BHA’s Regulatory department to assist in ensuring that more complex cases are resolved quicker
For a full explanation of the BHA’s fast track protocol see here.
Investigation Charter/Guidance Note
As of December 2017, an “Investigation Charter” and guidance note is also now in use for those involved in an in investigation, in order to provide clearer guidance as to what to expect during the course of disciplinary proceedings. This was a recommendation of the 2016 Integrity Review and subsequent review by Christopher Quinlan QC in the same year.
This includes any initial contact through potential interviews to the stage where it may be passed on to the BHA’s compliance or licensing teams.
As a result, participants will be provided with instructions and information as to what is expected of them and the BHA staff who they will come into contact with, as well as setting out guidelines regarding the possible length of investigations and the regularity of updates they will receive.
You can view the document here