Appeals Procedures in Clubs

I have just been asked to come up with an appeals procedure for our club. Everything i can find in the Laws and the White Book seem to apply to tournaments, not club nights.

Are there any rules/guidelines I have to / can follow, or can I just devise something sensible that is independent?

Thanks in advance

Jeremy

Comments

  • edited October 2018

    The only rules you have to follow when arranging your appeals procedure are those in Laws 92 and 93. Law 80B2k says that tournament organizers (in this case, that's your club) can choose the rules for appeals, so your club's rules on this would override anything the EBU might say. (Also, a club night is a tournament, technically; just typically a very small-scale local tournament.) There aren't many restrictions in the Laws in question (the main relevant restrictions are that the appeals team can unilaterally overturn findings of fact and of bridge knowledge, but can't change how the Director applied the Laws without the Director in Charge's permission, and that both members of a partnership are required to agree to the appeal).

    Typically the way an appeal works in general is that the appeal would be referred to one or more people who are serving as an appeals panel/committee/referee. (Procedures have varied on whether this includes a Director or not, but it's probably a good idea; the Director in Charge has to overrule the appeals team if they make a mistake in the Laws, which tends to look quite bad (especially if it was their ruling in the first place!), and so having someone with Laws knowledge on the appeals team will help reduce the risk of such an overrule happening.) If your club has multiple Directors available, it'd make sense to give appeals to a different Director than the one who made the initial ruling (for logistical reasons, it's simplest for the Director in Charge to handle appeals unless they made the initial ruling themself, as they have to be involved in the appeals process anyway to handle disputes of law). Depending on how competitive your club is, you could expand the appeals team to include multiple Directors and/or strong bridge players even if they aren't Directors (because there are sometimes appeals of the form "OK, so I'm not allowed to bid 4!s, but I don't agree that the opponents would have made 4!h if I was forced to pass" or "I know my partner hesitated, but it would be illogical to do anything other than bid on with this hand" which mostly revolve around bridge judgement rather than Laws knowledge), but that may be overkill if you're generally a fairly casual group.

    On a separate note, if you have multiple viable appeals Directors / appeal teams for any given appeal, I'd recommend selecting between them at random. This helps remove the illusion of bias that could result if the Director who makes the original ruling has input into who handles the appeal. So if you're a fairly casual club, I'd recommend a procedure like "Rulings made by Directors other than the Director in Charge are appealed to the Director in Charge. Rulings made by the Director in Charge are appealed to a randomly selected Director who''s present that night.". You could expand the size of the appeals panel to more than one person if your club is more fiercely competitive.

    The other thing to note is that the appeals period by default ends 30 minutes after the scores have been posted (your club is allowed to override this if they wish – you might want to shorten the time – but the point is that appeals can happen after the end of the session). Because appeals can happen after the end of the session, that's probably the best time to hold them, so that the players and Directors involved aren't trying to handle the appeal at the same time as they're playing hands (and because the act of holding the appeal might well give a player unauthorised information about a hand they haven't played yet, unless all the hands have already been played).

    By the way, although it's not directly about this subject, it's worth reading section 7.6 in the new (2018) White Book, which focuses on club Directors (as opposed to large tournaments). It doesn't specifically touch on appeals, but strongly implies that "get a different Director to sort things out when the original Director's judgement or objectivity is in question" is the correct approach to take. (And of course, an appeal is doubting the original Director more or less by definition.)

  • Thank you ais523 - very helpful.

  • At my most local club, the first recourse is to speak with the director of the session and ask them to reverse/explain their decision. After that, it goes to the Chief TD and thence to an appeals committee.

    At another local club, one would appeal to the TD of the session who would form a committee. If still not happy then appeal to the Chief TD.

    In either case, the next stage is for the club to kick the appeal up to the County Level and a final recourse is or might be the EBU itself, all depending on jurisdictions. Some clubs are not affiliated to their County nor the EBU and they would likely have nothing available beyond the Club's Chief TD and a committee.

  • In the same way as a director should always consult if possible before giving a ruling involving the exercise of judgement rather than a straight question of application of the Law, I don't favour appeals to a single person. Discussion between members of a committee will tend significantly to reduce the incidence of relevant points being missed.

    I think that if you're a fairly typical club there is a lot to be said for dealing with appeals by email. You can't possibly hold an appeal during the session (as a playing director I wouldn't even be giving a judgment ruling until the end of the session, and even as a non-playing director, whether I would do so would depend on how readily I could find someone to consult with), and keeping everyone behind at the end of the session isn't a recipe for a good process either. Some people will be anxious to get away, others will want time to consider what they want to say, etc.

  • I think it would take an exceptional club to be able to form a committee of members with sufficient wisdom, expertise and impartiality to form a workable appeals committee. We had an appeal at our club a few years ago which was dealt with on the night by a committee formed from the players. I thought they did a good job, but the appellant later complained about the composition of the committee (after he'd lost the appeal) because the committee members were also vying for qualification to the next stage of the competition, and that two of the committee members were team-mates of the defendants in another competition, so were not unbiased. At another club in the county I got the feeling that an appeals committee of senior club members tried to arrive at an outcome that would not upset the defendants, rather than a make a legal decision.

    We decided to set up a county appeals panel that would be willing to hear appeals from club events. It's chaired by a member of the EBU referees panel (who is a county member, but lives outside the county boundary, so is unlikely to be directly involved), but conducted on a more informal basis than an appeal directly to an EBU referee, with a lower deposit and an understanding that they will listen sympathetically to inexperienced players' grievances. I don't think the committee has ever been used, but it's reassuring to know it's there. You could try contacting your county committee to see if they have something similar in place.

    I'm a little concerned by the suggestions that an appeal should first be heard by the "chief TD". If it's a judgement ruling, why hasn't such a TD been consulted on the original ruling? A lot of appeals can be avoided by proper consultation from the TD.

  • @VixTD said:
    I'm a little concerned by the suggestions that an appeal should first be heard by the "chief TD".

    People are suggesting that because it's what Law 93 requires. The Director in Chief is required to handle all the Law-based parts of the appeal (with the appeals committee only being able to rule as to facts and bridge judgement, although of course they can try to persuade the Director in Chief if they think the Law has been applied incorrectly).

    I don't think I've ever seen a ruling-of-first-instance at a bridge club involve multiple TDs. They're generally playing at the time, so you a) want to reduce the amount of UI that's created for the Directors as a result of seeing the hand that's being ruled on, b) want to avoid slowing down the games that the Directors are playing in.

    Although it could be logical to have a panel of TDs handle judgement decisions after the end of a session, the majority of such decisions are uncontroversial and not appealed, so I'm not sure that it would be worthwhile. Generally speaking, you only want to get the panel involved if there's actually a dispute (which is what the appeals process is for).

  • @VixTD said:
    If it's a judgement ruling, why hasn't such a TD been consulted on the original ruling? A lot of appeals can be avoided by proper consultation from the TD.

    Consultation doesn't have to be with other TDs. The TD (particularly one who contributes to this forum, of course ;) ) is presumed to know the Law and how to apply it. The consultation is about the bridge issues (e.g. what calls a player's peers might choose, in a UI case; what a non-offender might do with different information, in a MI case). That discussion can be with other TDs but certainly doesn't have to be.

  • The advantage of consulting initially with other TDs is confirm whether we are applying bridge law correctly. We'd go on to consult with players if there is an element of bridge judgement, probably most often to assess possible logical alternatives.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • @Senior_Kibitzer said:
    The advantage of consulting initially with other TDs is confirm whether we are applying bridge law correctly. We'd go on to consult with players if there is an element of bridge judgement, probably most often to assess possible logical alternatives.

    Fair point - a second opinion is no bad thing even when you think you know what you are doing!

  • What has worked for me (at Jeremy's club) and other clubs (and local leagues) is have the appeal heard by an EBU TD. Just like a referee, they can always consult and someone away from the club is good for avoiding bias from personalities involved.

  • [ais523] "People are suggesting that because it's what Law 93 requires. The Director in Chief is required to handle all the Law-based parts of the appeal (with the appeals committee only being able to rule as to facts and bridge judgement, although of course they can try to persuade the Director in Chief if they think the Law has been applied incorrectly)."

    But who is the "Chief TD" in an ordinary club game? Some clubs and counties have a committee post of "tournament director", but I don't think they should be interfering in a tournament they are not running. Each bridge game should have an appointed TD who has the final say on matters of law and scoring and conduct. If more than one TD is officiating at a game, one of them should be in charge, and should have been consulted about any (particularly any difficult) ruling. If there's only one TD (as will most often be the case), they are by default the chief TD.

  • The laws are based on one director (and possibly assistants who may be delegated to give rulings).

    Only in the Law 92/93 does the law book start talking about "director in charge". I have been told that his just emphasis, the director in charge is the director appointed by the tournament organiser to run the event, and was "present" during the event. The director in charge is not someone holding a position of (chief) director in the tournament organiser or regulating authority.

    So if you are the (only) director on the night, you have to hear appeals which the director-in-charge is required to hear. So you hear what the sides have to say and then consult with another TD and rule.

  • @VixTD said:
    [ais523] "People are suggesting that because it's what Law 93 requires. The Director in Chief is required to handle all the Law-based parts of the appeal (with the appeals committee only being able to rule as to facts and bridge judgement, although of course they can try to persuade the Director in Chief if they think the Law has been applied incorrectly)."

    But who is the "Chief TD" in an ordinary club game? Some clubs and counties have a committee post of "tournament director", but I don't think they should be interfering in a tournament they are not running. Each bridge game should have an appointed TD who has the final say on matters of law and scoring and conduct. If more than one TD is officiating at a game, one of them should be in charge, and should have been consulted about any (particularly any difficult) ruling. If there's only one TD (as will most often be the case), they are by default the chief TD.

    At least in the club I play at, every day they nominate one qualified director (who's present that day) to be the chief TD for that day. It's not unheard of for other directors (who happen to be present) to make rulings if they have a better opportunity than the chief TD does, but it's the chief TD's responsibility for ensuring rulings are made (by doing it themself, if necessary).

    It doesn't have to be (and usually isn't) a permanent position, it's just that you need some director in charge to have the game running. (The chief TD typically also does things like setting up the movement, deciding when to move to the next round, etc..)

  • @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    What has worked for me (at Jeremy's club) and other clubs (and local leagues) is have the appeal heard by an EBU TD. Just like a referee, they can always consult and someone away from the club is good for avoiding bias from personalities involved.

    I would strongly recommend this, particularly for clubs unfamiliar with running appeals.

    Appeals at clubs seem to be quite rare. It is many years since the last appeal at my club, and Sheffield BC is one of the 20 busiest clubs in England. On that occasion, it was my own ruling that was appealed and I conducted an appeal with a panel of three players by e-mail which is able to make everything transparent. The instruction for my TDs is to contact me in the event of any request to appeal.

    For Bridge Club Live, my scribbles on the site say:

    "In accordance with The Laws of Duplicate Bridge, appeals may be made against bridge rulings by our Tournament Directors.

    Please write to the TD if you do not understand or if you disagree with an explanation of a ruling. If you remain unsatisfied, the TD will discuss the possibility of appealing. If you then wish to appeal, the CTD will arrange for this, even if it was he who gave the original ruling. For rulings involving bridge judgement, he will appoint a committee normally of three players. For rulings that purely involve Bridge Law, he will normally appoint a single referee who is a member of a national panel of Tournament Directors.

    Both sides will have an opportunity to put their evidence before the committee or referee. The result of the appeals process shall be considered final. Once work has begun on your request for an Appeal, you will be contacted as necessary by the CTD. Please allow several days as it involves many people and do not be concerned if there is no more 'news' for a while."

    In practice I've had an appeal about once every three years and just once have I used three players for bridge judgement. Otherwise I have used an EBU or WBU TD to referee.

    I have, from time to time, heard some horror stories of appeals heard at other, usually fairly small, clubs, often with the non-appealing side being completely unaware of any appeal being either requested or heard.

    For the rare occasions when a club has an appeal, it makes sense to contact an EBU TD to hear an appeal as a referee or even if just for advice on how your club should conduct an appeal internally.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • I recently wrote this for the local club, since the club's committee wanted "something" to be able to give to disgruntled players...

    Appeals Guide for Members

    As a player, there are times when you feel it necessary to call the director. Equally, there will be times when your opponents feel that the director should be called to the table. This is all a perfectly normal part of a Bridge session and the director is there to run the drive and to resolve anything which arises at a table which seems out of order or contrary to the Laws of the game. A player should always feel free to call for the director when something seems to be awry or even if some aspect of the session is bothering them.

    Most often, the director will arrive at the table and, with a dazzling and erudite display of Bridge insight and judgement, resolve the issue to everyone's satisfaction. Sometimes, it doesn't go quite so smoothly and one or both pairs feel that they are unhappy with the director's handling of the matter.

    This Guide is meant to help you to resolve the situation when you don't feel that the director has gotten things quite right.

    Firstly, please don't argue with the director. We might not be the best in the world but we are trying to do our best. However, if you think that the director is simply mis-remembering the rules, you are within your rights to ask the director to explain by which rules he is making a ruling. The club has copies of the rules book available and the director should often be able to tell you why they have made a ruling.

    Please bear in mind, though, that the director has his or her own game to get back to and cannot spend a large amount of time at your table. Please accept if they say that it would be better to discuss it at the end or at the break. Please also accept if they insist upon their ruling and advise you that you are free to appeal their decision.

    With the best will in the world, situations can still arise where you strongly disagree with the director's ruling and feel that you have lost out on a deserved score. There can be times when you feel that things should have turned out differently.

    The first step is to speak with the director after the session and ask them to explain clearly why they made the decision that they did. On reflection, they might decide that you were right and they should then amend the earlier ruling. Equally, you might accept that they were right. In either case, the problem is solved.

    The next step is to make an appeal. You should write to the club's Chief Director or to the assigned Appeals Director, clearly stating the nature of the decision you disagree with. You should provide all information which you consider relevant, such as which board you were playing, who your opponents were, why the director was called in the first place, what the director's decision was and stating clearly why you disagree with it. If the remaining cards held are relevant then you should give as much information as possible about the cards and the auction.

    On receiving your appeal, the director dealing with the appeal will review your appeal. They will speak with the director of the session and they will write to ask you for any further information that they feel they need. They will then make a decision on your appeal or they will ask the director of the session whether they will consider changing their initial ruling. If you accept their decision, and the reasons for it, then the problem is solved.

    If you disagree with their decision then you may write to them again and ask to take the appeal higher. They will then form a committee of experienced directors to consider your appeal further. You might be asked to attend this hearing but you won't be required to do so. This appeals committee will make a decision and the director handling the appeal will inform you of the reasons behind their decision. If you are happy with it then the problem is solved.

    If you still feel that you can't accept the decision then the next step would be to advance the appeal to the Yorkshire Contract Bridge Association (the YCBA). Either the Chief TD or the designated Appeals Director will help and advise you with this process and any forms required. It is possible that there will be a cash deposit required to take the matter to this level and that the deposit might not be refundable if the YCBA considers the appeal to be without merit. This basically means that they view your appeal to be so obvious that you were ill-advised to take it beyond the club.

    If you disagree with the ruling made by the YCBA, the next step will be to advance the appeal to the EBU. Again, you will be given help with this process and there will definitely be a deposit required, which, again, will be forfeit if the appeal is deemed to be without merit.

    The EBU's decision will be final.

  • edited March 12

    One concern is the paragraph

    "The first step is to speak with the director after the session and ask them to explain clearly why they made the decision that they did. On reflection, they might decide that you were right and they should then amend the earlier ruling. Equally, you might accept that they were right. In either case, the problem is solved."

    I would hope the Director would also discuss the situation with the other pair at the table (if only to agree facts) as they may have further information that they felt was not needed at the time.

    Also, I think an appeal panel should not be of directors - certainly not if it is a judgement ruling.

  • I'm more worried about this one:
    "The next step is to make an appeal. You should write to the club's Chief Director or to the assigned Appeals Director, clearly stating the nature of the decision you disagree with."
    The request for an appeal has to be made to the director within the correction period. You seem to be advising them to appeal to someone else, and there doesn't seem to be any urgency to get it in in time.

  • I also have some concern with:

    "If you disagree with the ruling made by the YCBA, the next step will be to advance the appeal to the EBU. Again, you will be given help with this process and there will definitely be a deposit required, which, again, will be forfeit if the appeal is deemed to be without merit."

    If you include the possibility of appealing to the National Authority (the L&EC), I think that it is worth being clear that it is dependent on the various criteria being met as per White Book, para 1.7.2

    Some years ago, I had an appeal on a ruling I made at my club and my ruling was upheld. The player then wished to appeal to the National Authority and I told him "If you appeal to the EBU, they will take your money and they will keep it!

    He appealed and lost his deposit without it being even heard.

    He told me that I should have made myself clear and that I should have told him "They will take my money and they will keep it and they won't give it back to me!

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • Thanks for your comments, everyone, and thank you for that warning, Barrie.

    When I wrote this, it was a requirement that it be done in a friendly and approachable manner. As regards whom to appeal to, we have a tradition at the club that you appeal to the director, i.e. speak with them. If that fails to give satisfaction, you can take it to someone higher up the chain. That way, the member doesn't feel trapped by the opinion of just one person. I tried to hide anything which would be "behind the scenes". Also, if there has been rancour, the player can go straight to someone higher up the chain who will, essentially, act as their agent in communicating with the director of the session.

    With regards to an appeals committee, I would ensure that we had at least opinions from our most experienced players who were prepared to offer an opinion. Not everyone is prepared to sit on an appeals committee but we would expect the directors to do so and we would expect to be able to garner opinions from other players. Most of our experienced players are also directors at the club but, of course, not all of our directors are experienced players.

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