APRIL 9, 2002
Phoenix to go legal
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.