Michele Bernasconi
Office:
Brandschenkestrasse 90
8027
City:
Zurich
State:
Zurich
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 50 00
Fax:
+41 58 261 50 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Sport

Michele Bernasconi is a partner in the Zurich office and heads the sports, media and entertainment practice. He advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration in commercial, media and sports matters. Michele Bernasconi is said to be one of the most experienced arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. He regularly lectures on international sports law at the University of Zurich and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. Michele Bernasconi is president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law, founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association, and chair of the sports committee of the Swiss Bar Association. He is a graduate of the University of Zurich (lic iur) and Harvard Law School (LLM).

WHICH CAME FIRST, AN INTEREST IN LAW OR AN INTEREST IN SPORT?

I was around five years old when I started to follow with great interest both the Perry Mason TV series (an American legal drama series starring Raymond Burr) and two sporting giants, Jackie Stewart and Johan Cruyff. One could say that I have always been passionate about law and also about sports, so I feel very lucky to combine the two in my professional life.

TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT (CAS) AN EFFECTIVE BODY IN RESOLVING DISPUTES?

If, as a lawyer in a sporting matter, you have never been forced to try your luck before an ordinary state court, you will never truly appreciate the advantages of CAS. Of course, there is still room for CAS to evolve and improve, but it clearly is a huge advantage for the sports family to have the possibility to submit a sports-related dispute to an arbitral tribunal that is neutral, experienced in sporting matters, efficient and reasonably inexpensive for the parties involved.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST INTERESTING CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

The most interesting case is always the one I have right in front of me on my desk. However, I must admit that the first Matuzalem case, where I served as president of the CAS panel, was special to me. The decision was confirmed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal and has had an influential role on many other cases of breach of contract by a football player or a club.

YOU ARE CO-DIRECTOR OF THE UEFA FOOTBALL LAW PROGRAMME (UEFA FLP). HAVE YOU FOUND THIS TO BE A REWARDING EXPERIENCE?

Yes, extremely rewarding. First, the other co-director is Emilio Garcia, managing director of integrity at UEFA and possibly one of the best people one could wish to work with because of his incredible knowledge and great personality. Second, the first edition of the UEFA FLP consisted of an incredibly talented group of students doing a fantastic job. We are about to start the second edition, and I hope that Emilio, myself and the students will be able to repeat and perhaps even improve on the success of the first edition. I really believe that in order to achieve positive, respectful and sustainable development of football in the world, we must increase cooperation among stakeholders. Improving the juridical knowledge of such stakeholders is a crucial step in that direction. I am optimistic that with the assistance of the UEFA academic team, the University of Kadir Has in Istanbul, the University of Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid and the University of Padova, and the contribution of all the fantastic friends that are acting as professors, we will continue to have a strong programme.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT IN SPORTS LAW SINCE YOU STARTED PRACTISING?

Of great significance are certain structural developments such as the introduction of the first WADA Code or the recognition of CAS by FIFA. But equally important, as I wrote few years ago, is the emergence of a new international community of sports lawyers that simply did not exist 20 years ago. I feel a great sense of cooperation and collegiality among the members of this community.

WHAT MAKES BÄR & KARRER STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION IN THIS FIELD?

I believe that a law firm benefits very much from having great clients. Our sports department has had the privilege to work with some demanding but also high-profile clients within the sport sector. Among those clients, UEFA has, of course, played a part and continues to have a unique role in my professional career. Just to mention an important example: 20 years ago, I started to work with a really special person, Mr Alasdair Bell, who is now UEFA’s legal director, and I am so thankful that I still have the pleasure to work at his side.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS STILL LEFT FOR YOU TO ACHIEVE?

I hope to maintain the right motivation for what I do. I am passionate about my work and the people involved and I hope to continue to avoid doing anything for prestige, status, money or approval alone (as someone wiser than me wrote once). 

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

Michele Bernasconi is a partner of Bär & Karrer’s Zurich office and heads the sports, media and entertainment practice. He advises on a range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, and is considered one of the most experienced arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme; president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law; founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association; and chair of the sports committee of the Swiss Bar Association.  

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN SPORTS LAW?

Sport and law have always been two worlds that I loved. To have the possibility of combining my work with my passions was immediately a source of joy and a reason to make every effort to succeed. 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN THE AREA?

Sports is a field of law that to a very large extent is truly international. To be able to connect with people from different cultures is certainly one of the nicest aspects of working in this area. I have also enjoyed the privilege of being part of a rather small group of lawyers aiming to develop a set of rules that simply did not previously exist: a new lex sportiva.

HOW DOES THE WIDE VARIETY OF DIFFERENT SPORTING ORGANISATIONS IN SWITZERLAND AFFECT YOUR APPROACH?

Some legal issues and principles generally apply across all sport disciplines, but without question, it is different dealing with a top professional tennis player compared to an amateur rower, for instance. Similarly, large organisations such as UEFA, FIFA or the IOC must certainly deal with different issues compared to a smaller federation governing a new sport discipline. However, setting aside for a moment the excitement surrounding many high-profile sporting events, we realise that when we look around us, sport is everywhere. We see children playing, parents cheering, volunteers helping and young athletes dreaming. As a sports lawyer, one should never forget that “sport” is not only “big sport” and similarly, that sports law is not only focused on the big disciplines or events.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE SINGLE BIGGEST EFFECT OF THE GLOBALISATION OF SPORTS IN RECENT YEARS?

Without any doubt, the improved protection of the rights of athletes is significant. There is still considerable work to do in this area, but today there is more equality and fairness in the treatment of athletes worldwide when compared to 20–25 years ago.

TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT (CAS) AN EFFECTIVE BODY IN RESOLVING DISPUTES? 

If, as a lawyer in a sporting matter, you have never been forced to try your luck before an ordinary state court, you will never truly appreciate the advantages of CAS. Of course, there is still room for CAS to evolve and improve, but it is clearly a huge advantage for the sports family to have the possibility to submit a sports-related dispute to an arbitral tribunal that is neutral, experienced in sporting matters, efficient and reasonably inexpensive for the parties involved.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU NOTICING IN THE SPORTS LEGAL MARKET AND IN SPORTS LAW IN GENERAL?

We notice an increase in the number of lawyers that are interested in working in this field worldwide. We also see an increase in the quality of the legal work, both within sport organisations and in respect of party representation and advocacy before sports adjudicatory bodies. Of great significance are certain structural developments, such as the introduction of the first WADA Code or the recognition of the Court of Arbitration for Sport by FIFA. But equally important, as I wrote few years ago, is the emergence of a new, international community of sports lawyers that simply did not exist 20 years ago. I feel a great sense of cooperation and collegiality among the members of this community.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR PRACTICE DEVELOPING IN THE FUTURE?

I hope to maintain the right motivation for what I do. I am passionate about my work and the people involved and I hope to continue to avoid doing anything for prestige, status, money or approval alone (as someone wiser than me once wrote).

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?

The real achievement has been working for and with outstanding clients and colleagues as they and their organisations have developed and flourished. Receiving the global title of Sports Lawyer of the Year in 2018 from Who’s Who Legal was, of course, a cause for joy as well.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Data: Information Technology

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Zurich and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WWL says: Michele Bernasconi stands out in the IT space thanks to his extensive experience and deep industry knowledge.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Data which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Data: Telecoms & Media

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Zurich and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WWL says: Michele Bernasconi is lauded for his extensive experience advising on regulatory and antitrust matters in the telecoms and sports sectors.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Data which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - TMT

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Zurich and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panellist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WWL says: Michele Bernasconi is a distinguished practitioner with a formidable reputation in the field. Commentators note his expertise on IT and television matters in particular.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Sports & Entertainment

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Zurich and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panellist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WWL says: Michele Bernasconi stands out as “one of the most famous CAS arbitrators in the country” and “a very important name in sports law”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Sports & Entertainment: Sport

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Zurich and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WWL says: “Top-class arbitrator” Michele Bernasconi is identified as “an expert in international soccer” and “one of the best CAS arbitrators ever!”

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Sports & Entertainment which can be purchased from our Shop.

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