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Protesting

Larkhall MSA April 2010In Karting, as with all motorsport, it is important that you are aware of your rights and redress if you feel that a decision has been made against you which you do not feel is fair but what do you do if you find yourself in that position?

Protests for competitors
If you find yourself needing to launch a protest against another competitor there is a formal procedure you must follow. The act of protesting must come from the actual driver [or entrant] ; must be in writing which includes your reasons for wanting to protest [known as grounds for the protest] and must be signed by the protester. When the protest is lodged the protest fee [known as a deposit] must also be paid. It is important to remember that if your protest is not successful you will lose your deposit and the Stewards of the Meeting may deem that you acted in bad faith and impose further penalties.

The protest should only be lodged with one of the senior officials [Secretary of the Meeting, Clerk of the Course or deputy] and therefore these should be located as soon as possible once the decision has been made to protest. There are strict time limits for lodging a protest, and reference should be made to the Blue Book as soon as there is an incident which you feel may need to be protested. If the incident took place during the race there is 30 minutes to lodge your protest from the completion of the race.

The next stage is that a protest hearing will take placein which you are entitled to call witnesses to support your case, however, at this stage you must present your own case. In most circumstances any prizes will not be given out until the conclusion of your protest hearing.

Appeals
If the Clerk of the Course decides against your protest [or if you are appealing any decision of the Clerk of the Course or any Race Official] there is the right of appeal to the Stewards of the Meeting [except for decision made by the Judge of fact.] you can also appeal technical protests however, these are referred straight to the National Court and therefore are not held at the track.

The appeal must be made in writing setting out the grounds of appeal and be signed. The appeal, along with the fee [which again is generally lost if the decision is made against you] is to be given again to one of the above listed officials [secretary of the meeting, Clerk of the Course or deputy within the specified time limits. The list of decisions which can be appealed can be located in the Blue Book and include technical exclusions, handicaps and results.

The Appeal hearing is similar in nature to the above protest hearing and again you can call witnesses. [there are slightly different procedures for appeals against championship classifications or points which are made to Championship Stewards and must be lodged within 7 days of the first time the points are published.]

If you still feel aggrieved you can appeal to the National Court against the decision of both the Stewards of the meeting [or from a Championship Stewards] on only two ground of appeal either there has been a gross miscarriage of justice or the penalty is wholly inappropriate for the breach. The procedure becomes much more formal at this stage, with the above two grounds akin to appeal grounds in Criminal cases. A formal written notice of intention to appeal the appeal decision with the fee must be lodged with the above officials [Secretary of the meeting; Clerk of the Course or deputy or championship co-ordinator if applicable] within 30 minutes of the verbal decision of the Stewards [unless the parties are not present in which case it must be servedon the Secretary of the Meeting by first class mail within 10 days and a copy also sent to the MSA within 10 days.
Within 10 days of submitting your written confirmation of the appeal you must send a signed [by entrant and appellant] written confirmation of the appeal to the Clerk of the National Court at Motor Sports House. This document must specify the grounds of appeal and your arguments. If your appeal meets the criteria for the National Court then the Court will be convened.

National Court procedure
Similarly to domestic civil and criminal court proceedings a skeleton argument must be provided to the Court. During the proceedings you can be represented by an Advocate who will present your case and can cross examine witnesses on your behalf. The issue of costs may arise and it is advisable to seek legal assistance if you reach this stage of proceedings.

Penalty points
Finally, the Blue Book outlines penalties [with set penalty points] imposable on any promoter, organiser, official, entrant, competitor, passenger, driver, mechanic or other person who breaches any of the regulations in the Blue Book. These penalties range from reprimands to disqualification and similar to the totting up provisions in relation to criminal driving offences, if a competitor receives 12 penalty points within a 12 month period then there license will be suspended for 12 months unless they can prove to the National Court that the suspension will cause exceptional hardship.