THE National Horseracing Authority has confirmed via its Managing Director, Lyndon Barends (photo) that it had received last Friday’s Judgment in respect of a review which was lodged by Mr James Goodman, and heard in the High Court in Durban, on 10 February 2017, and has commented on the matter:
Findings of the High Court:
It is evident from the Judgment that, the main point which the case turned on was, whether “a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the chairman of the enquiry board” existed. In this regard, the judge stated:
“…the case is not about whether the second respondent is indeed someone of unquestionable independence and impartiality and whether he is indeed not capable of bringing an impartial mind to bear on the adjudication of the case that was before him. It is all about the perception held by the applicant and whether such perception of bias was reasonable in all the circumstances.”
In this regard, the Judge noted that, Mr Jonathan Witts-Hewinson (second respondent) had been a past Chairman of the NHA (first respondent), was a director of the NHA and the Chairman of the Inquiry Review Board, at the time of the inquiry. On this basis, the Judge held that:
“In my view the argument that the second respondent (Jonathan Witts-Hewinson) occupied positions that were potentially conflicting is unassailable. He ought to have recused himself. However, in addition, the perception of bias held by the applicant was perfectly reasonable on any analyis. On this ground alone the case falls to be decided for the applicant.”
Accordingly, the review against the findings and the penalty were successful and each set aside.
The NHA respects and has accepted the judgment of the court and is currently reviewing its position and the effect of the Judgment on the existing disciplinary structures.