Buy-out Clauses in French Sports Law

Buy-out Clauses in French Sports Law
In France, sports activities are regulated by specific laws compiled in the Code du Sport, and by the Federations and Leagues which have the power to regulate all aspects regarding the organisation of the official competitions, including athletes’ contracts. The relationships between clubs and their employees are also regulated by French labour law and by collective bargaining agreements such as the National Collective Bargaining Agreement on Sports (CCNS) as well as specific collective bargaining agreements for each sporting discipline. Clubs and athletes being bound by all these rules can have a hard time understanding which rules prevail over which. Buy-out clauses are a very good example of this complicated articulation.

The contested validity of buy-out clauses under French Sports law​

Strictly regulated termination of fixed-term contracts under French Law

Article L. 222-2-3 of the Code du Sport provides that all professional athletes, members of a sports club or association, should enter solely into fixed-term contracts.

In the meantime, the ratio legis of employment law in France is the permanent contract. In that respect, fixed-term contracts are considered as being the exception to this rule and are thus strictly regulated by the French Labour Code, in order to protect employees, the weak parties to the contract.

Professional athletes are considered as being weak parties to the contract. Hence, the law and judges wish to provide them with sufficient protection. This can seem slightly paradoxical in the world of football as players can sometimes be the strongest party to the contract, or that at least the bargaining power between players...

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