1. AUTHORITY TO FORM
1.1 This procedure forms part of the Gridiron West (GW) Operations Manual and as such has authority under the Constitution and is binding on all members of affiliated associations and other persons or organisations which submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the affiliated association and Gridiron West.
1.2 Any and all previous by-laws covering tribunals and penalties are expressly rescinded. For the avoidance of doubt all penalties handed down under any previous disciplinary by-laws shall continue to be recognised by Gridiron West.
1.3 The intent of the tribunal procedure is to support fair play and protect all members of Gridiron West by serving as a deterrent to offences that are contrary to this ideal.
2. AUTHORITY OF TRIBUNAL
2.1 The established tribunal panel of Gridiron West shall have the power to suspend, disqualify, reprimand, fine, bind, ban or otherwise deal with any person involved with gridiron and or the organising body (including, but not limited to players, coaches, teams, clubs, officials or spectators) in accordance with this procedure, regarding any incident arising from an activity conducted by the organising body. The incident may have occurred before, during or after the conduct of the activity, within the confines of the field, activity venue or its immediate surrounds or elsewhere if directly related to gridiron activity of any sort.
2.2 The tribunal may also deal with any other disciplinary matter delegated to it for adjudication by the Gridiron West Board, including behaviour that is gridiron related and occurs or utilises a technological medium such as:
- Mobile phones
- Email or instant messaging services (including SMS)
- Internet forums
- Internet social networking sites
- Other technologies that are a means of communication
2.3 The tribunal must at all times act independently and impartially in carrying out its duties in accordance with this by-law.
3. MEMBERSHIP OF TRIBUNAL
3.1 The tribunal panel shall be appointed by the GW Board each year immediately after the AGM or as requested and shall comprise of the following persons:
- A tribunal chairperson who shall be a person of experience and skills suitable to the function of chairing the tribunal and discharging the responsibilities set out under clause 4.1;
- No fewer than two tribunal members in addition to the chairperson;
- At least two additional members must be appointed as substitutes where the tribunal members would need to remove themselves due to a conflict of interest.
3.2 Where a tribunal chairperson or tribunal member resigns or is dismissed that a vacancy exists on the tribunal, the Gridiron West Board shall act to fill such vacancy by appointing a replacement for that position as soon as is reasonably practical to do so.
3.3 No tribunal decision shall be invalidated by any irregularity in the appointment of a tribunal member.
4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF TRIBUNAL CHAIRPERSON
4.1 Without limiting the duties of the tribunal chairperson as set under the various clauses of this procedure, a person appointed to the position of tribunal chairperson is to ensure that the following tasks are carried out:
- Raise with any proposed tribunal member a potential or possible conflict of interest which may arise from time to time;
- That accurate records are kept of all of the tribunal’s proceedings and decisions;
- Communicate to the Gridiron West Board the results of hearings of the tribunal;
- Chair hearings of the tribunal or to ensure that such task is delegated to a member of the tribunal.
5. RECORDS OF TRIBUNAL FINDINGS
5.1 A record of the tribunal findings and decisions will be forwarded to the GW Board secretary for notification to all parties, including any affected clubs and also the head of officiating.
6. REPORTS BY OFFICIALS
6.1 Game officials and any GW Board official who has been empowered by GW, shall be entitled to report any person, team or club which, in the opinion of the official has committed an offence under the GW playing rules (currently IFAF) or the GW Operations Manual.
7.1 Where GW, or an official of GW believes an offence has occurred, or where GW has received a formal letter of complaint but no report has been made, GW may investigate, or appoint a person to investigate, the alleged offence, and if after that investigation, it or the person appointed to investigate recommends that a report be made, GW or the person appointed by it may make a report.
8. DUTIES OF OFFICIALS MAKING A REPORT
8.1 An official who makes a report shall enter the details of the alleged offence(s) on the game day match report as soon as possible after the match or investigation, noting all particulars in connection with the report so that a clear account can be given to the tribunal when the report is dealt with.
8.2 The official making the report shall ensure that the charged person, team of club as well as any other person involved in the report and all other match officials are informed of the report and where practical given a copy of the report as soon as possible after the report is made.
8.3 If the official is unable to give the report to the reported person, team or club it shall be forwarded immediately to the GW Board for forwarding to the club’s nominated representative or contact address.
9. DUTIES OF GW BOARD ON RECEIVING A REPORT
9.1 Ensure all affected parties, including the reported person/club and witnesses have been notified of the report, and that the matter has been referred to the tribunal for consideration.
9.2 Notify the tribunal chairperson that a report has been received.
9.3 If the charged person is under 18, they are to be advised that they may have an adult with them as an advisor in all dealings with the tribunal panel.
10. PRELIMINARY TRIBUNAL PANEL HEARING
10.1 The preliminary tribunal panel hearing will be convened to investigate any charges arising from an official report.
10.2 This tribunal panel hearing can be held through teleconferencing, via email, or other forms of electronic communication where a face to face hearing is impractical.
10.3 Where the offence is covered by those listed in section 16.3 the corresponding minimum sanction will be offered to the alleged offender.
10.4 The reporting officials, based on the severity of the offence, where they feel that the mandatory sanction would not be an appropriate deterrent, may request that the charge be referred to the tribunal panel for additional sanction.
10.5 The preliminary tribunal panel will meet prior to the next round of matches in which the reported person/team is participating to make a preliminary determination of the alleged offence(s).
10.6 The purpose of this meeting will be to determine if there is sufficient grounds and evidence to prove the charge as stated in the official’s match report.
10.7 If the offence falls outside of those offences that carry a mandatory sanction or where it is an elevated offence under section 16.4 the tribunal, based on the charge and initial evidence supplied, will offer the alleged offender a sanction which they can accept, negating the requirement for a full tribunal hearing.
10.8 To determine this initial sanction offer, the tribunal panel can conduct additional enquiries with both the reporting party and the alleged offender, to assist in the determination of the penalty.
10.9 The initial offer provided by the tribunal panel will take into consideration the assumed acceptance of the charge and responsibility for their actions by the charged person and any sanction will be reduced accordingly.
10.10 Once provided with the offer from the tribunal the charged person will have 24 hours to respond with their acceptance of the sanction or their request to challenge the determination at a full tribunal hearing.
10.11 By challenging the initial tribunal panel ruling the charged person understands that in doing so they waive their right to accept the initial sanction offer provided and may have their sanction increased as a result of the full tribunal hearing if the charge is found proven.
11. CONVENING FULL TRIBUNAL HEARINGS
11.1 Where a charged person has chosen to challenge the ruling of the tribunal panel, a full tribunal hearing will be convened.
11.2 Notifications of persons charged under this procedure shall include details of the day, time, and place of the full tribunal hearing at which the charge will be heard. Notification must be provided in a reasonable time prior to such hearing.
11.3 This full tribunal hearing, where practical, should be held prior to the next round of matches in which the reported person/team is participating.
11.4 Failure to hold a full tribunal hearing prior to the next round of matches in which the reported person/team is participating does not invalidate this procedure and the preliminary tribunal panel decision, including any sanctions, will remain in place until such time as the full tribunal hearing is held.
11.5 The charged person may make application to the board, who may, at its absolute discretion, where it is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds, order a stay of execution of the penalty imposed until such time as the full tribunal hearing is held.
11.6 Full tribunal hearings can be held via teleconference where it is not practical to meet in person due to reasons of hardship or distance.
12. CONDUCT OF FULL TRIBUNAL HEARINGS
12.1 The following persons shall be required to attend a tribunal hearing conducted under this procedure:
- The charged person or the president, secretary or other delegate representing a charged team or club;
- The reporting official;
- Any other person involved in the report;
- Witnesses as indicated by the reporting official or charged person;
- Any witness required by the tribunal.
12.2 The following persons shall be entitled to attend a tribunal hearing where appropriate:
- Any player of a charged team or club;
- Any witnesses called to give evidence by a charged person, team or club;
- Any witnesses called to give evidence by the reporting official(s);
- In the case of a charged person under the age of 18 years, an adult advisor to that person;
- A person to assist the charged person.
12.3 The following persons may be able to attend a tribunal hearing with the permission of the tribunal:
- GW Board representative;
- Any other persons.
12.4 Legal representatives or advocates are not permitted to appear before the tribunal unless in exceptional circumstances and where leave to appear has been granted by the tribunal chairperson.
13. NON-ATTENDANCE AT FULL TRIBUNAL HEARINGS
13.1 If any charged person (or representative of a charged team or club) fails to attend a tribunal hearing without reasonable cause, the hearing may proceed, and a determination made by the tribunal in the absence of the charged person, team or club, provided that the tribunal is satisfied that all notification procedures have been carried out.
13.2 A charged person, team or club or reporting official may apply to the tribunal chairperson to have a hearing adjourned if there are compelling circumstances which warrant such steps being taken. This will be at the discretion of the tribunal chairperson.
13.3 A charged person unable to attend a hearing shall be entitled to appoint a representative (who is not a legal practitioner) to appear in their place if that person intends to plead guilty, subject to the tribunal receiving a letter of consent from the charged person containing their guilty plea to the charges contained in the report, and any statement that person would have given to the tribunal had he or she attended.
13.4 If any witness fails to attend a hearing, the hearing will continue in their absence.
13.5 If a reporting official fails to attend a hearing without reasonable cause, the hearing may proceed, and a determination made by the tribunal in the absence of the reporting official, provided that the tribunal is satisfied that all notification procedures have been followed.
13.6 If a reporting official or the GW Board inadvertently fails to carry out any duties listed in clauses 8 and 9, the charges will not be dismissed for this reason, but may be adjourned to allow the omission to be rectified. Where appropriate the tribunal shall take the failure into account and make suitable allowance.
14. FULL TRIBUNAL HEARING CONDUCTED VIA TELECONFERENCE
14.1 Charged parties can apply to hold the full tribunal hearing by teleconference where there are compelling reasons to do so such as cost, hardship or significant inconvenience to the charged person, team or club.
14.2 All aspects of the full tribunal hearing shall be conducted in accordance with this procedure where practicable.
15. PROCEDURES OF THE FULL TRIBUNAL HEARING
15.1 In the event of a team of club being reported, one member of the team or club shall act as spokesperson for the team or club, provided that an individual member of that team or club may elect to speak on their own behalf.
15.2 At the commencement of a hearing, the chairperson shall identify the members of the tribunal, and determine of the charged person is present to answer the charge(s) set out in the report.
15.3 The charged person shall be asked whether they accept the members of the tribunal as impartial and independent, or whether they wish to raise any objection in relation to any member. If the objection is found by the tribunal to be valid, then the tribunal member shall stand down for the duration of the hearing.
15.4 The charged person and the reporting official(s) shall be notified of their right to remain in the hearing until all evidence is presented, but not to be present whilst the tribunal considers its findings and determined an appropriate penalty (if any).
15.5 The chairperson shall advise all those present of the method of recording the hearing.
15.6 The charge(s) as contained in the report shall be read out in the presence of all persons eligible to be present.
15.7 The charged person shall be asked whether the charge is understood, and the reporting official asked whether the charge correctly represents their intention.
15.8 The charged person shall be asked to plead.
15.9 If the charged person pleads guilty to the charge(s), the chairperson may read a short summary of the facts, admit the reporting officials evidence, and no witnesses need to be called to give evidence unless the tribunal requests it.
15.10 If the charged person pleads not guilty to the charge(s), then the chairperson shall ask witnesses except the reporting official(s), and the charged person, to leave the room and to wait to be called to give their evidence.
15.11 The reporting official shall proceed to give evidence, and the witnesses of the reporting official may be called upon to give their evidence in turn, subject to the approval of the number of witnesses to be called by the tribunal in its discretion. The charged person may ask questions of the reporting official or any witness called.
15.12 Each witness shall be entitled to leave the tribunal hearing after giving evidence unless otherwise directed by the tribunal. Witnesses may be entitled to remain in the hearing room after giving evidence with the permission of the tribunal.
15.13 The charged person shall then be entitled to present their defence. Witnesses may be called subject to the approval of the number of witnesses to be called by the tribunal in its discretion. Reporting officials may ask questions of the charged persons or any witness called.
15.14 The tribunal is empowered to question any person giving evidence.
15.15 Where a person exercises their right to have an adult observer or adviser present in accordance with this procedure, an opportunity for consultation will be provided.
15.16 Video evidence may be presented at the discretion of the tribunal.
15.17 At the conclusion of all of the evidence and submissions the chairperson shall ask the charged person, the reporting official and all other persons present to leave the hearing room while the tribunal considers its findings.
15.18 If the tribunal is not satisfied that the particular charge has been proved, but is satisfied that a lesser charge has been established, then the tribunal may find such lesser charge established and shall apply the penalty applicable to the lesser charge.
15.19 Where it appears to the tribunal that the reporting official has made an error in laying the wrong charge, or omitted charges that should have been laid, the tribunal may amend the charges and proceed to make a finding. Further, the tribunal has the right to direct that a person other than the charged person be charged with an offence under this procedure on the basis of evidence presented before it during the course of conducting a hearing.
15.20 The decision of the tribunal shall be given by the chairperson in the presence of all.
15.21 If the tribunal is satisfied that a charge has been established on the balance of probabilities (more probable than not), it shall find the charge proved. Otherwise the charge will be dismissed.
15.22 If a charge has been found proved by the tribunal, the charged person shall be informed of the finding. Any previous convictions against the charged person should then be laid before the tribunal.
15.23 The charged person should then be given the right to make a final statement in relation to the previous convictions or other mitigating circumstances before being asked to leave the room for a second time.
15.24 The tribunal shall then determine the penalty to be imposed (if any), and shall recall the charged person and officiating official to advise of the penalty.
15.25 After a penalty has been imposed, the tribunal chairperson shall inform the offender of their right of appeal including:
- The time and date by which the appeal must be lodged;
- The place of lodgement of the appeal.
15.26 The tribunal is not obliged to give oral or written reasons for any decision made by it under this procedure.
15.27 A charged person who has been convicted of an offence and received a penalty under this procedure shall not play, coach, referee or otherwise take part in any GW activities as directed by the tribunal until the penalty has been served to the satisfaction of GW.
16. OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
16.1 Clause 16.3 sets out the standard offences and mandatory penalties to be applied where a charged person has plead guilty and accepted the mandatory penalty prior to a tribunal.
16.2 Where a charged person pleads not guilty and therefore a tribunal is held these penalties become minimum sanctions and the tribunal, in its discretion, can apply additional sanctions based on the evidence provided and circumstances surrounding the offence.
16.3 Offences and penalties:
- Fighting – a player ejected for fighting by an official under the GW playing rules
- First offence in a season – 1 game
- Second offence in a season – 4 games
- Third offence in a season – referred to tribunal for determination
- Leaving the sideline to participate in a fight
- First offence in a season – 2 games
- Second offence in a season – referred to tribunal for determination
- Ejection for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game by an official under the GW Playing rules
- First offence in a season – ½ game
- Second offence in a season – 2 games
- Third offence in a season – referred to tribunal for determination
- Abuse of an official
- First offence in a season – 2 weeks
- Second offence in a season – referred to tribunal for determination
16.4 The following offences will automatically be referred to the tribunal panel for determination:
- Racial vilification
- Breaches of GW Code of Conduct
16.5 Where charges arising from one particular incident are heard together and the tribunal finds the person or team guilty of more than one offence, it may impose a single penalty, or individual penalties for each offence.
16.6 Where the tribunal imposes more than one period of suspension, it may impose them to be served concurrently, or cumulatively, or part thereof.
16.7 Persons on a first offence will have this taken into account when accessing the penalty handed down.
16.8 The tribunal may take the charged person’s prior conviction in determining a penalty to be handed down.
16.9 The tribunal has the discretion to apply suspended sentences as part of a penalty. This should remain in place for a period of 12 months.
16.10 If a charged person faces another tribunal in the period in which the suspended sentence is in place and is found guilty, the suspended sentence will be added to whatever penalty is handed down.
17. RIGHT OF APPEAL
17.1 The charged person can appeal the decision of the tribunal where they satisfy the GW Board that:
- Significant new or additional evidence has become available which is likely to make a material difference to the decision of the tribunal.
- That the penalty imposed by the tribunal is not in accordance with the provisions of the procedure.
- That the tribunal failed to follow procedures or requirements of this procedure to the significant detriment of the person seeking the appeal.
17.2 The GW Board may appeal a decision of the tribunal on the grounds that the penalty imposed is inadequate.
17.3 An appeal must be lodged with the GW Board within seven days of the decision outlining the grounds of the appeal and providing any further evidence if available.
17.4 On receipt of the appeal the GW Board will appoint no fewer than three persons to hear the appeal.
17.5 The appeal board may, at its absolute discretion, where it is satisfied that there is sufficient grounds, order a stay of execution of the penalty imposed until such time as the appeal is heard.
17.6 Unless granted relief under clause 17.5, the appellant shall serve any penalty handed down pending the determination of the appeal.
17.7 There will only be one right of appeal following the decision of the tribunal. The decision of the appeal tribunal is final and binding on all parties.
18. RELATIONSHIP WITH CRIMINAL MATTERS
18.1 If during a tribunal hearing or investigation it becomes known that criminal charges have been brought (as opposed to merely being investigated) arising out of the actions the subject of the hearing or investigation, the tribunal and/or GW Board may rule that further action be deferred until completion of the criminal charges, unless the police or other prosecuting authority advise they have no objection to the matter proceeding.
18.2 In making a determination under clause 18.1 the tribunal or GW Board shall have a regard to the need to ensure the ongoing safety of players, referees and other persons involved in GW.
19. NATURAL JUSTICE
19.1 To the extent that the principles of natural justice are not included in the provisions set out in this procedure they are expressly included.
20. RECOGNITION OF PENALTIES ACROSS ASSOCIATIONS
20.1 GW acknowledges and agrees that it is required to recognise and enforce penalties handed down against individual persons, teams or clubs by the disciplinary tribunals of all other organising bodies, gridiron associations, leagues and competitions which are affiliated with Gridiron Australia or its constituent associations.
21. DISCUSSIONS INFLUENCING THE DECISION
21.1 A charged person/team or anyone representing a charged person/team is not permitted to contact a reporting official or other parties involved in the reported incident, excluding their own witnesses from the time in which they are informed that a report will be submitted and the tribunal hearing.
21.2 Discussions surrounding a report, details of the event or possible sanctions should be avoided by all involved in the process including via online forums, chat groups or social media.
22. CLUB SANCTIONS
22.1 The GW Board can, in its discretion, refer a team/club to the tribunal where it feels that the disciplinary record of its members during the season has become excessive.
22.2 The team/club will be asked to provide the following:
- Any mitigating circumstances or justification for the team/club’s poor record;
- A detailed plan on how they will address the behaviour with their members; and,
- A formal code of conduct that their members will be expected to adhere to.
22.3 The tribunal after hearing the submission may recommend the following sanctions:
- Loss of points
- Good behaviour bond
- Suspension or expulsion from the league
22.4 Any club sanctions recommended by the tribunal must be ratified by the GW Board prior to handing down.
23. PROCESS FLOWCHART