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The appeal process

The match is last season - ancient history now - in an EBU knockout. My questions aren't about the hand itself but about the ruling and appeals process in an EBU knockout. There was a dispute about a late alert and the impact it did or did not have on the hand result, with the match result hanging on the ruling. The initial request for a ruling was made by the captains in writing after the match completed. It went to one of the EBU top level directors who ruled "no amendment". The other team appealed. That was sent to a referee who ruled the other way with an adjusted score. The referee was a well-known bridge name; I don't know whether the individual is a qualified director.

I have three questions:
1) When does an appeal of this type go to an appeals committee and when does it go to a single referee ?
2) If the one referee comes to a different conclusion from the one top-level TD, why does one person's view override one other person's view ? (I am told that the referee is meant to "consult" but if this referee did so, there was no mention of that in the referee's ruling)
3) If the top level TD and the referee are reaching different conclusions, is that not a good case to defer to an appeals committee ?

Thank you for your thoughts


  • This is explained in two documents

    Both are linked from the General Regulations and from the White Book (under matches played privately, WB 2.6). Captains should be aware of these documents (and the general regulations) so that when a ruling is needed, the teams follow the propper procedures.

    The first ruling from a TD was a 'ruling of first instance' not an appeal.

    The second decision was an appeal of the initial ruling. Appeal heard remotely are usually heard by a referee - from the list of EBU referees.

    A TD will consult before ruling. A referee will involve others as necessary, and may form a committee but procedurally a referee is a 'committee of one'.

    The appeals process is intended to review a TD ruling and if necessary overturn it. The 'ruling and appeal' is a two-stage process and the appeal decision replaces the TD ruling. This is Law 92/93 and the White Book (WB 1.7 and 1.8).

  • Thank you Robin.

    The procedures for rulings state that the appeal goes to a referee but do not explain why one person's view trumps one other person's view, particularly given that the ruling of first instance has been given by a senior TD. What is the rationale ?

    Nor do they set out when an appeal goes to an appeals committee of three people. Do those still exist and when do appeals reach them ?

  • edited November 2023

    The reason for the reversal will have been given in the appeal ruling, in the same way the ruling of first instance will have been supported with a reason(s).

    There’s no absolute right to have a committee of three or more people decide an appeal. You would need to read the competition’s regulations to see whether or not such a thing was promised. I believe Robin has provided a link to relevant material.

    Don’t rule out the original written submissions as being the source of an incorrect ruling. When the nature of the irregularity is incorrectly described, it will impact the ruling. Such misunderstandings would usually come to light because the reason for the ruling would not reflect the actual circumstances, so the captain’s appeal would be able to correct that misunderstanding.

    For example, let’s imagine the original submission said, “I was going to bid but the player then produced the alert card, so I passed.” There’s no apparent damage, so no adjustment. Whoever gives the ruling will base it on what is written, they will not make assumptions about what is meant.

    Let’s say the submission ought to have said, “I was reaching to make a bid when the opposition produced an alert card. I then had to pass, but the opposition were now aware that I had a bid if their bid was treated as natural. This UI was subsequently used to our detriment…” Now, there’s a possibility there was damage done and the referee has something more detailed to consider in the appeal.

    As I say, it’s just an example of something that could have occurred. I wouldn’t assume the original decision was incorrect because the Director was at fault or that the appeal was incorrect because the Referee was at fault.

  • edited November 2023

    The referee's decision trumps the senior TD's ruling because the referee is an appeals committee, and if an appeals committee decision could not override the TD decision, there would be no point in allowing an appeal process.

    The laws on appeals and the White Book section on appeals make it clear that the existence of some sort of appeal/review process is seen as an important part of the laws and EBU procedures. To have an impact the appeal process must be capable of changing the TD decision.

  • Thank you both. In this instance the ruling request was very well and fully documented. But my difficulty is not about the outcome. I deliberately did not pose the question at the time because I very much wanted to make the general point and not be thought of as challenging the outcome.

    Certainly there needs to be an appeals process which can decide whether to overturn the original ruling. Over the years, we have appealed a couple of times at congresses regarding a director's ruling and that has worked smoothly - an informal chat with an expert player to gauge a reaction so as not to waste an appeal committee's time if the expert things we cannot have a case - then a panel of three very experienced directors and/or laws specialists to hear the appeal.

    Personally, I cannot see the justification for why one person's view should override the original person's, i.e. why the EBU regulates to normalise an appeals committee constituted of one person rather than three people.

  • @MJK43 said:
    Personally, I cannot see the justification for why one person's view should override the original person's, i.e. why the EBU regulates to normalise an appeals committee constituted of one person rather than three people.

    It's a practical thing for when there aren't three people available in the same place. Appeals committees, whether of three or one, are meant to start with the TD's ruling and only change it if they are clear that something is wrong - not just for questions of detail. In that respect the TD's ruling does have greater weight and the appeal ruling is just a safety net.

  • edited November 2023

    If we take the view that a person is capable of making a mistake, then we have to accept that 3 people can each make a mistake. We might even have 2 people making a mistake and the wrong ruling would still be the output from the appeals panel.

    So if the starting premise is that more people mean there’s less chance of a mistake, I’d have to ask, why?

    The feature of the appeals process, which has been mentioned by both Robin and Gordon, is that the person who hears the appeal, starts out with information that the original TD did not, that is a considered opinion in writing for them to review…and the point I was making, a critique of that ruling ie. The appeal.

    We might agree that a TD is capable of making a mistake, but when the person hearing the appeal has the original ruling and a critique of that ruling, they are in a far better position to render the correct decision.

    We also have to trust that the event organiser has retained appropriately qualified and experienced people to provide an appeal hearing. If we don’t believe that such a competent person will given the task, then are we to expect that 3 such “not competent” people would be any better?

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