Basketball Arbitral Tribunal

In 2007, we established for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal (BAT) which we continue to administer from our office. Before the BAT was founded, breaches of contract in international basketball often went unsanctioned and the injured party had to spend years fighting for its rights at great financial expense in an unfamiliar legal system. Hence FIBA commissioned Martens Rechtsanwälte to develop a practical solution to this problem.

We decided against the approach adopted by some sports bodies that make recourse to their internal tribunals mandatory, which is rarely particularly effective. Instead, we advised FIBA to set up an independent court of arbitration, whose jurisdiction the parties to the contract may voluntarily agree on. The arbitration rules that we drafted were designed in every aspect to facilitate a straightforward, swift and cost-effective decision on contractual disputes in international basketball. Two core features are that all disputes are dealt with by a sole arbitrator and that he or she decides ex aequo et bono, i.e. on the basis of general considerations of justice and fairness rather than any national legal regime. In practice, this means that the arbitrator applies the contractual provisions unless this is grossly unfair (in which case such contractual provisions likewise would not withstand scrutiny under most national laws).

This market offering has become a great success story: between the first proceedings in 2007 and 2023 over 2075 cases have been heard before the BAT. Due to the high efficiency of the proceedings it is not just actions for several million euros that are brought before it, but also actions on a smaller scale for four-digit amounts. The feedback from the market participants is unfailingly positive – the number of cases each year continues to rise steadily, with around 180 requests for arbitration being filed each year.

In 2024, the BAT introduced the Payment Order Procedure (POP). The POP is comparable to default judgements before state courts (e.g. the European order for payment procedure) and is arguably the first of its kind in the context of international (sports) arbitration.

Since 2007
than 2075
the BAT
BAT Quick Facts
  • True court of arbitration under Swiss law
  • Sole arbitrator appointed by the institution from a closed list consisting of recognized experts
  • In the absence of an agreement to the contrary: decision based on principles of equity (ex aequo et bono)
  • Language of the proceedings: English
  • Oral hearings are only held exceptionally
  • Highly efficient proceedings with short deadlines for submitting briefs and with paperless arbitration to the extent possible
  • The arbitration award must be made within 6 weeks of the end of the proceedings
  • Administrative fees between 1,500 and 7,000 euros (depending on the amount in dispute); the arbitrator and the BAT President are remunerated on the basis of (moderate) hourly rates, thus their fees varry according to the complexity of the case at hand (generally between 4,000 and 12,000 euros, and less than 8,000 euros on average)
  • Enforcement in accordance with the New York Convention and/or in accordance with FIBA’s regulations
Awards and testimonials
for the BAT
  • Nominated for the Innovating Justice Award 2012
  • Article in the New York TimesRead Article
  • “Congratulations on a job done so well to provide a necessary mechanism for the globalization of basketball”David Stern,former Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA)
  • “The FAT [former name of BAT] is proving to be an effective and, therefore, popular body for resolving disputes in the sport of basketball and, perhaps, this winning formula/model may be adopted by other sports bodies for the settlement of their disputes.”Ian Blackshawin the World Sports Law Report 7/7, July 2009
  • “The BAT has completely changed the market.”A leading players’ agent