Phoenix to go legal

WE hear from inside sources of the Arrows team that Phoenix Finance Ltd. (which has nothing to do with Arrows apart from the fact that Tom Walkinshaw is for some reason representing their interests) will shortly file law suits in the High Court in London against the various parties involved in denying Phoenix an entry in this year's FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The FIA and other parties (which may include the other signatories to the Concorde Agreement) ruled that Phoenix (and/or D.A.R.T Ltd., which was the company name for a brief moment) did not buy the Prost Grand Prix entry for the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship and therefore could not compete.

Phoenix is apparently seeking damages. The legal action will no doubt drag on for months and will probably involve complicated arguments about the differences between British and French law. The fact remains, however, that the international automobile federation has a long and successful record of defending legal attacks on its right to make decisions. The most notable being in the Appeal Court in Paris in April 1988 when the court ruled that the federation is "the only organizer of international events".

At the time the FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre said that the decision "establishes that the federation has an independence which allows it to make decisions with total autonomy". This principal was upheld during the recent European Commission investigation into the rules and regulations of the FIA.

In the 1988 case, the judge ruled that the claimant, Automobiles Peugeot (represented at the time by Jean Todt), had to pay all the legal costs, which amounted to several millions of French Francs as the case dragged on for 19 months.

Phoenix and its representatives might possibly end up being penalized under Article 151c of the International Sporting Code which states that "any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally" can be penalized by the FIA.

Article 25e of the FIA Statutes empowers the World Council to apply penalties to any licence-holder who has contravened the statutes and regulations; pursued an objective contrary or opposed to those of the FIA and who has refused to abide by decisions of the FIA.

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