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In a recent interview, snooker player, Steven Lee was quoted as saying, that in his hearing, he was not legally represented, if he had been, the outcome would have been different.  Lee was given a 12 year suspension from playing snooker by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, a move which has totally destroyed his career (pending an appeal).

Why therefore would he not have consulted with and sought advice from a solicitor in the first instance?  Richard Howlett of Selachii LLP Solicitors explained that people often think obtaining the services of a solicitor is an unnecessary expense.

Howlett stated "if a tap is leaking, you would call a plumber.  If your electricity went off, you would call an electrician, therefore, if you find yourself in a difficult legal position, call a qualified solicitor for advice, it is simply false economy not to".  The consequences for Steven Lee is that he loses out on 12 years of competition money which potentially would have lost him millions.

A solicitor will not only be able to provide you with good sound advice, but they will also be able to advise you on your prospects of success.  If the prospects are bad, your solicitor will be able to minimise any damage to you by negotiating the best outcome possible.

Steven Lee is not the first professional sports person to have been suspended or dismissed from a sport due to cheating allegations but he appears to be the only professional sports player who has found himself in such a situation and continued to represent himself.

Sometimes people feel as if not having a solicitor at court or a disciplinary hearing works in their favour as they may gain a certain amount of empathy standing there alone.  This however is simply not true. A Solicitor will be able to put the facts across in a clear, concise and organised manner and in a format which the court or disciplinary hearing will be able to grasp immediately.

Eddie Ahern is another famous sports personality who was given a lengthy ban.  The  British Horseracing Authority banned Ahern for 10 years and found him guilty of deliberately stopping a horse in a race which coincided with a good friend of Eddie Ahern placing (and winning) a large bet on the outcome of the race.  Whilst Ahern had legal representation, it is not possible for a solicitor to mislead a court or tribunal and if the case against the defendant is strong enough, the best a solicitor can do is mitigate any damage to their client by trying to keep any fine or penalty as low and as reasonable as possible.

Sports cheats seem to be on the rise.  However, the majority of cheats are discovered due to irregular betting patterns at bookmakers.  For example, if Steven Lee were to have lots of money placed on him to lose the third frame of a game and then in that third frame, he played terribly, it is relatively safe to assume that there has to be some correlation between the betting and the frame loss.

If however there was no irregular betting but he still played badly in the third frame, there would be no suggestion of cheating because there would be no evidence to suggest otherwise.  Sports cheats do it for two reasons.  The first is financial gain, such as the two examples above.  The second is to win, such as Ben Johnson in the Seoul Olympics where he was caught using steroids.  Either way, cheating is cheating.  If you are caught then you need a Solicitor to defend any allegations against you and worst case scenario, to keep any damage to an absolute minimum.

Richard Howlett is a Partner at Selachii LLP - 02077925649

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