The Law Behind… The Olympics

If London wins the Olympics in 2012, its thanks to the huge efforts to woo the International Olympic Committee not least from those City law firms that ensure every aspect of the bid is present and correct. Lawyer 2B provides an insight from the lawyers on the front line


London 2012: winning an Olympic bid
Londons Olympic bid is hotting up.On15 November,London submitted its Candidate File to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Following this submission, a presentation will be made to the European National Olympic Committee in Croatia on 3 December.

In February next year, the IOC Evaluation Commission will visit the City of London to see the plans for where the games will be staged, the proposed stadia, transport links, the proposed location for the Olympic Park and the logistical plans. The IOC will then publish its report in May. The final vote will be in the summer and the winner will be announced on 6 July 2005.
London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow are all competing. Current feelings are that we are in with a good chance. However, we need to keep up the pressure. Promotional campaigns are being run throughout the capital to garner support from the general public.

The London 2012 Bid Team approached a number of UK law firms to support the bid and offer their services. Law firms that agreed were Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), which is helpingon planning matters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on corporate, Ashurst on infrastructure and employment and Clifford Chance on international property, venues and sponsorship agreements. Each firm is given status as a supporter of the bid, which allows it to use the Olympic logo and promote its involvement.

BLPs advice involves following and providing input to the planning process, which is being led by the London Development Agency. It advises on planning, environmental and advertising controls, as well as on the structure of a dedicated Olympic Development Agency, which will be incorporated into a new Olympic Act to provide the structure and powers that will be required if London is selected. This is a massive exercise involving sites across East and Central London. Understandably, there is a real emphasis on controls against terrorism and the provision of efficient transport links between sites.

While the aim of the bid is focused on hosting the Olympic Games, if we win, the Games are capable of leaving a legacy of infrastructure, facilities and social advantages which could speed the transformation of East London.
Ian Trehearne, planning partner, BLP

Paying for the Games: project finance
Every major city in the world would be proud to host the next Olympics. As the director of the bid for your city, you have promised the earth to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in order to win it. It is now July 2005, and the IOC has declared you the host for the 2012 Games. So how are you going to afford to make good on your promises?

Every central or local government body faces the dilemma of how to pay for new public infrastructure. Much of the public infrastructure procurement in the UK in recent years has taken place via project financing.
Where the infrastructure itself can generate revenue, it is common for a private sector consortium to enter into a single contract with the Government to design, build, finance and operate the facility (a DBFO contract) for a guaranteed concession period, usually between 25 and 30 years. The private sector will be expected to make its own assessment of the revenue to be generated and to rely on that to repay its debt and make a healthy return on its investment.

Examples of assets where there is a potential revenue-generating lifespan beyond that of the Games are: the main Olympic Stadium and other stadia; new hotels and other accommodation; and new rail and road links.

A key issue for the private sector is that the city will be keen to use the Olympics to regenerate run-down areas. This may mean that the private sector cannot forecast the revenues for a facility with sufficient accuracy, and in these circumstances the body responsible for urban regeneration may need to offer minimum revenue guarantees.
Andrew Buisson, associate, Norton Rose

Paying their way: sponsorship
Kelly Holmes, Matthew Pinsent, Amir Khan all British heroes to emerge from the 2004 Athens Olympics. The performance of these athletes at the Games, with its massive worldwide appeal, can turn a medal winner into a marketing dream for sponsors.

A sponsorship agreement with an Olympic gold medal athlete offers brand association with the high performance, discipline and dedication of such athletes.

Agreements are likely to require the athlete to make personal appearances and to exclusively endorse the sponsors products, services or brand. Sponsors will also want to use the image of the athlete to reinforce their association. But it is here where their lawyers need to be wary.

The downside of using an Olympic athlete is that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prevents the use of anything which suggests a direct association with the Olympics for commercial purposes, to protect its own agreements with official marketing partners.

This means that a sponsor could not, for example, use a photo of Kelly Holmes running in the 800m final as she would be displaying the distinctive five rings Olympic symbol on her vest.

These IOC rights and protections are enshrined in many countries national legislation, in the UK in the Olympic Symbol etc (Protection) Act 1995, which provides that it is a criminal offence to use the IOCs protected symbols.

So beware although drafting an agreement to sponsor an Olympic hero may seem like a medal winner, lawyers could find themselves stuck in the blocks unless they fully advise the sponsor of the IOCs legislative protections.
Jason Smith, Partner and Matt Hargreaves, Trainee Solicitor, James Chapman & Co

Regenerating an Olympic city: planning
The Lower Lea Valley is identified as an opportunity area for regeneration in the London Plan. The 2012 Olympics is considered to be a key catalyst for this regeneration.

The London Development Agency (LDA) was selected to make the planning applications and embarked on a procurement process, through which the team of consultants was appointed.

One of the first issues addressed was what should happen in the legacy period following the Games. What part of the Olympic facilities should be replaced, and with what? What new development should take place?

An environmental impact assessment looking at, for example, transport, landscape and contamination, was undertaken. The applications were mainly in outline, which meant the precise design and location of the facilities was unknown.

The planning permissions had to be delivered before submission of the Bid Book. The planning applications were submitted in January 2004, leaving less than a year to secure the planning permission. Careful project management was essential.

Transport and highways were key issues in terms of the delivery of permanent improvements.

The interests of landowners and key statutory consultees, such as the Environment Agency, had to be addressed. Having reached agreement with all relevant parties, and with the reports assessed for legal robustness, all planning applications were recommended for approval in September.

Most development schemes require a Section 106 Agreement to be completed by the landowner of the sites. Such agreements deal with a range of issues, including affordable housing provision, highway improvements and education contributions.

The LDA holds significant land interests in the Lower Lea Valley but did not own the land covered by the planning applications. Provisions were included to ensure that all the land in the applications were bound by Section 106, or otherwise controlled by the LDA, before development commences.

The development will not be carried out for many years. The usual time limits requiring submission of reserved matters and implementation of the planning permission had to be substantially extended.
It is a legal requirement that outline planning permission is tied into the environmental impact assessment carried out. Conditions had to be imposed which restricted the development to the parameters upon which the assessment had been carried out unless any deviations were not likely to give rise to significant environmental effects.

The planning permissions were granted on 1 October 2004 once the Section 106 Agreement had been completed and the Greater London Authority and the London Mayor had confirmed they were happy for the boroughs to grant planning permission.
Paul Wootton, partner, Eversheds

Olympics for lawyers: sport disputes
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is responsible for resolving most sport disputes. At the Olympics, the CAS operates its ad hoc division, settling any disputes arising from or connected with the Games.

Despite the thrill of acting in cases with a worldwide impact, gaining access to the Olympic Village and getting to meet your sporting heroes, acting as counsel before the CAS is an extremely demanding experience. It may also be one of the most rewarding that a lawyer could go through.

The striking characteristic of arbitration before the ad hoc division is that the outcome of most disputes is likely to affect the results of a competition. This is because the CAS hears casesrelatingtotheselection, admission and disqualification of athletes, and sometimes the regulation of the competition itself.
In order to cater for this, the relevant CAS rules require disputes to be pleaded and decided within 24 hours.

The lawyers must work around the clock to study the case, interview clients and witnesses and prepare for the hearings. It ends only when proceedings close.
This is the only way the process can work. In this tough but effective system, lawyers are asked to identify the issues and define their strategy with no chance to rethink the initial decision. Requests for postponement are not an option, not least because the likely outcome of such requests would be a 30-minute adjournment, which happened in Athens.

Thorough experience in sports disputes and the ability to work under pressure are necessary tools to act in such cases.

It is fair to say that acting before the CAS at the Olympics can be described as the Olympics for lawyers. Think of your hardest working day, then imagine having to perform the same activity in half the time and under double pressure. Citius, Fortius, Altius (swifter, higher, stronger), as the Olympic motto says.
Domenico Di Pietro, assistant, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw

Deal-making: corporate
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has been advising London 2012 on corporate law issues for just over a year. This has meant helping London 2012 to take the right commercial decisions to best enhance its case for hosting the Olympics.

One of the hot topics in the Olympic movement today is ethics, particularly since the bribery scandals of the mid-1990s. A successful Olympic bid therefore needs to exhibit the highest standards of corporate governance.

London 2012 sought early advice on both its legal duties, such as the classic common law duties of directors to act in their companys best interests, and also, uniquely, its obligations under the International Olympic Committees (IOC) Code of Ethics.

The challenge was to understand and interpret a complex and wholly new area of law. Although soft law is not enforceable in court, in a competitive bidding process, under the full glare of the world media spotlight, it was crucial that London 2012 understood its obligations to the IOC and had the processes in place to abide by them.

Another area where corporate law impacts on the Olympics is in the strategic planning work on the bodies that need to be created. In London 2012s case, this has involved devising a structure that brings together the best of public and private sector expertise to ensure that the stadia and other infrastructure will be ready on time and on budget, while achievingthetransparencyand accountability expected of an organisation that will receive public money.

So a private company the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games will be created and will be contractually responsible to the IOC to deliver the Games in 2012.

There will also be a public sector corporation established by an Act of Parliament. This will be the channel for all public funding; it will coordinate the functions of the Government and, crucially, it will act as the planning and development authority for the Olympic Park zone in East London. These bodies will be accountable to the taxpayer through an oversight board, which will include representatives of the Government and the Greater London Authority.
Simon Cliff, associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer