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Noel Curr v Motorcycling New Zealand Inc (ST 19/07)


Appeal against decision of national sporting organisation – stewardship and relationship with membership – Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) suspended appellant’s membership and also terminated his status as a steward as the result of disciplinary proceedings – in 11 April 2008 decision, Sports Tribunal upheld findings against appellant but reduced suspension imposed and expressly reserved jurisdiction to review matter of stewardship if required by either party. Whether appellant automatically resumed status as steward at conclusion of suspension of membership (he had been a steward member) or whether separate approval of suitability as steward by MNZ was also required – MNZ refused to approve appellant as steward for race meeting after his suspension had concluded – on basis of arguments presented to it, Tribunal ruled on 28 July 2008 that appellant not automatically reinstated as steward but entitled to apply for membership in whatever category appropriate – however, it subsequently arose that was relevant rule not brought to Tribunal’s attention or argued before it – in interests of natural justice, Tribunal considered whether new grounds including this rule should cause Tribunal to reach different conclusion – After hearing new arguments, the Tribunal decided on 26 November 2008 that appellant resumed membership status as steward by virtue of MNZ rule 7-3-6(b) which states that upon expiry of suspension the member will be entitled to exercise the rights and privileges of membership of that class in which he or she was entered prior to the suspension – On analysis of rules and constitution, Tribunal rejected that rule 7-3-6(b) does not apply to situations out of competition (original breach was for conduct out of competition) – under rules applicable at the time, MNZ Board had right to review status as a steward but not as an element of sanction under a disciplinary decision but by a separate decision – appellant’s stewardship terminated without separate reasons for that – therefore appellant had been technically reinstated as steward member at the conclusion of his suspension, although only for a brief period as he lost that status on 16 May when MNZ Board further suspended his membership in disciplinary proceedings (relating to a separate incident not before the Tribunal and unable to be considered by the Tribunal) – observations that under the new constitution of MNZ it appeared the power to terminate stewardship was now available as part of a disciplinary process.

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