South West lawyer appointed to governing body of national sport

David McWilliam, Partner and Head of Personal Injury & Sports Law at regional law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors

A specialist lawyer from Dorset law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors is set to have a say on disputes in swimming with a new appointment at the sport’s national governing body.

David McWilliam, partner and head of personal injury & sports law at the firm, has joined Swim England’s dispute resolution panel in a voluntary role.

The board hears judicial complaints made by members – including swimmers, coaches and volunteers – about alleged misconduct, maladministration or breach of SE regulations.

David is already a member of Football Association’s general appeals panel and its serious case panel.

He is also an independent disciplinary panel member and non-executive director of the Dorset County Football Association.

His appointment at SE comes after a newly published independent report commissioned by the organisation criticised the ‘toxic’ culture at some clubs where there are ‘excessive demands and pressure’ placed on young swimmers at a competitive level.

Ellis Jones – with 178 staff including 21 partners – has offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Ringwood, Wimborne, Swanage and London.

David said: “I’m looking forward to getting started and seeing the different range of cases involved.

“My legal knowledge and my experience in sports disciplinary matters should bring an extra dimension to the expertise on the panel.

“I’ve been involved with swimming for many years, including the past eight years at Christchurch Seagulls Swimming Club, so it’s another great opportunity to make a difference in the sport.”

David will hear cases with colleagues on the panel – a mixture of legal and non-legal representatives – at SE’s head office at the University of Loughborough.

He said: “Swim England has recognised issues at some clubs which it has pledged to tackle, including those raised in a recently published independent report.

“More than 14 million adults and nearly two million children go swimming every year, according to figures from Swim England.

“The overwhelming majority enjoy the sport with no problems whatsoever and I hope my involvement in the panel will further enhance Swim England’s capabilities in dealing with any matters which do arise.”

David has spent the last eight years involved with Christchurch Seagulls where his daughters have both been swimming to national level. He stepped down as chairman last July after seven years in the voluntary role. He is also the legal advisor to Dorset Amateur Swimming Association (ASA).

David launched the area’s first specialist sports law department at Ellis Jones in 2020, one of the few dedicated departments of its kind in the south.

The team advise on a range of issues such as contracts, intermediary/agent regulations, image rights, brand protection, sponsorship, event management, discrimination, disciplinary, anti-doping and employment issues.


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