The type of work I undertake as a Motorsport Lawyer generally falls into two categories – National Court work and Contract work.
My weekends are usually spent ‘on call’. This means that a driver or team instruct me to be ‘on call’ for their race weekend (usually for the whole racing season or on an individual weekend basis, particularly towards the end of the season when every point can mean the difference between winning and losing a Championship). Prior to the weekend, I will have fully reviewed their Championship Regulations, any amendments and the final instructions. I then follow qualifying and all races either on live streaming, live timing or, if they want, in person at the circuit. Should there be any issues either with eligibility of their vehicle or on-track actions, I am there to advise how to deal with this, whether to appeal to the National Court and, if so, the procedure and MSUK fees to do so.
Come Monday morning, I will be dealing with further submissions for clients that I have been ‘on call’ for but my phone will also usually be buzzing from teams and drivers who have lodged appeals over the weekend and need me to act on their behalf with the further submissions to the National Court and representation at the subsequent hearing. I’ll also be dealing with disciplinary and investigatory procedures which may have been started.
Proceedings in the National Court are extremely time sensitive and one of the most common mistakes I see is drivers and teams not lodging appeals in time or not paying the fee correctly to MSUK.
Having been racing sports cars and tin tops myself for over 17 years, I think my ‘on track’ experience enables me to fully understand what’s going on and to put it across to the Court. It puts my clients at ease to know that I ‘get it’.
The other side of my work is Contracts. Having things in writing from the very beginning is essential – whether it be a sponsorship agreement, a management agreement or a driving agreement with a team. Generic contracts, in my opinion, often cause confusion and don’t include everything that is needed, so, particularly during the off season, I spend a lot of time negotiating and preparing bespoke contracts – often picking up things that they probably haven’t even thought of. I also, of course, have to deal with cases when things go wrong and try to reach a resolution in disputes between teams, drivers and sponsors or take the necessary Court action if an agreement can’t be reached.
And, in between all that, if I’m not racing myself (currently in a Clio Gen 4), you’ll find me at a race track supporting drivers and marshals in my role as Ambassador of the British Motorsport Marshals Club and as a member of the British Women Racing Drivers Club.
Sarah is the founder of Motorsport Legal, a firm that deals with appeals to the National Court of Motorsport UK, contracts, disputes and anything legal that a race driver in the UK may require. You can learn more about Motorsport Legal in the Motorsport Prospects Directory here.