The legal tussle between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on the issue of breach of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as per which the two countries were set to play bilateral series between 2015-2023 came to an end, courtesy of a judgment passed by ICC's Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC).
The DRC's judgment read, "Following a three-day hearing and having considered detailed oral and written submissions, the Dispute Panel has dismissed the PCB’s claim against the BCCI. The judgment, which can be found here in full, is binding and non-appealable." In 2014, BCCI and PCB had signed the MoU as per which the two countries were to play six bilateral cricket series between 2015 and 2023.
Here are the key points from the 26-page judgment that was out on ICC's website on Tuesday.
- The panel wrote that the letter signed between the two cricket boards in April 2014 was perceived differently by each party. On one hand, BCCI considered it to be a document which represented the first step in the three-step process of finalising the obligation to play each other between 2015 and 2023. On the other hand, PCB considered the April letter as final legal document between the countries. They thought that the subsequent FTP agreements was no more than a formality.
- The ICC rejected PCB's claim that the April letter was an MoU. In its report, the DRC said, "The Panel accepts that there were copious references in later interchanges from the PCB officers describing the April Letter as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), notably one from Mr [Subhan] Ahmad (PCB COO) to Mr [Sanjay] Patel (BCCI honorary secretary) on 15th April 2014 proposing a joint press release referring to the PCB and the BCCI having signed 'an MOU with regard to the Future Tours Programme 2015-2023'. As a matter of legal principle, such subsequent characterisation would be inadmissible as an aid to classify or construe the letter".
- The judgment also highlighted that BCCI was never in need of playing Pakistan. Rather the case was vice-versa. The judgment said that it was PCB who was in the necessity of playing India, quoting a PCB official that cancelling of the tours will 'definitely make a dent in our financial reserves'. The judgment read, "By contrast there was no necessity for the BCCI, the dominant force in world cricket in the modern era, to play away against Pakistan. The BCCI may have had the wish, but it was the PCB which had the need."
- DRC also wrote that while PCB thought that the BCCI was contractually bound to play the bilateral series, the document signed in 2014 was no more than a letter of intent to play the series. It was more of a moral obligation between the two teams and not a legal one. Hence, DRC failed the PCB’s claim for compensation as because as per the committee 'if there was no obligation on the BCCI to engage in the tours in either 2014 or 2015, its omission to do so was no breach and gave rise to no damages claim".
- On the issue of Indian government approval, DRC opined that 'there was no domestic law or any express directive which imposed any such requirement, nor any provision for sanction were the BCCI to undertake a tour without government approval'. The DRC said that 'the time at and the manner in which such approval had to be sought and obtained, appeared to the Panel more a patchwork quilt than a seamless robe'. It also said that DRC could not understand how Indian government approval became part of any contract when, at first place, it was not mentioned in the April letter.
- The Panel also accepted that the awareness of the BCCI’s claimed need for government approval was indeed reflected not only in PCB emails but also in minutes of PCB board meetings, all of which were aggregated in the BCCIs helpful schedule to its written submissions.
- The DRC, also, pointed out it was impressed by the sincere efforts of the both the sides to resume the bilateral series between the two countries. It hoped that political considerations will not long prevent that desire from being fulfilled.
Read the full text of the judgment here: