ICC revamp February 7, 2014

Proposed revamp legally sound, says ICC

ESPNcricinfo staff

Iain Higgins, the ICC's head of legal affairs, has responded to the objections raised by Sri Lanka Cricket president Jayantha Dharmadasa, and stated that the resolutions to be presented to the Full Member Board for a revamp of the ruling body are all legally sound.

On February 5, Dharmadasa had written to Higgins immediately after a special meeting of the SLC stakeholders voted unanimously against the revised proposals presented to the ICC directors at the ICC Board meeting on January 28. Higgins' response has suggested that if any member had any objections to the proposals, they had the right to vote against it, should it be brought to vote, during the ICC's Board meeting in Singapore on Saturday. The proposals themselves, Higgins said, could be "considered" within the ICC's "Memorandum and Articles of Association."

While the ICC media release from the last Board meeting at the end of January stated that all ten Full Members, along with the three Associates, had "unanimously" accepted the principles of the various resolutions, not everyone was completely in favour of the proposals. In the subsequent weeks, Cricket South Africa and the Pakistan Cricket Board, followed by SLC, have publicly expressed their opposition to the proposals.

In his correspondence to Higgins, Dharmadasa had said the "purported proposals" were completely against the fundamental principles on which the ICC had been formed. He feared that the revised structure would put power in the hands of "just three Full Members" and make available to them a "disproportionately large share" of the ICC funding meant for all ten Full Members. That, he said, would only violate the equal revenue-share model that was part of the ICC constitution.

Dharmadasa's most significant reservation was against the proposed "contribution costs" which would erase the existing equal distribution of funds to all Full Members from the ICC surplus. The ICC, he said, needed to have its funds distributed "in furtherance of its objectives and not as a share of profits". Dharmadasa said the "contribution cost" was: "not a true cost and accordingly cannot constitutionally be dealt with in this manner. It is our view that the purported resolution utilises the terminology of 'cost' in an attempt to circumvent provisions of the Memorandum of Association, which otherwise prevent this financial model from being implemented."

Although he disagreed with rest of the points raised by Dharmadasa, Higgins was in guarded agreement that the financial redistribution model might need further discussions. "Our preliminary view is that the payment of 'Contribution Costs' and 'Test Cricket Fund' are in furtherance of the ICC's objectives and consistent with the prevailing provisions within the ICC's constitution. We will consider that matter further, and will reflect on your comments in that respect," Higgins wrote.

Higgins said that the three boards - the BCCI, the ECB and Cricket Australia - who had tabled the resolutions did not go against any of the ICC's founding principles when putting together the draft of "the position paper". "[…]On the face of the resolutions themselves, they would appear to be correct," Higgins wrote. "Any Member who disagrees with that analysis or any of the resolutions is, of course, free to vote against the resolutions, or take such other action as they see fit."

Contesting Dharmadasa's point that the ICC's Finance and Commercial Affairs (F&CA) committee - that had originally prepared the 'position paper' based on which the final proposals were drawn and revised - did not have the "scope of power", Higgins said the board could not be stopped from "considering" the resolution since it was being tabled by three Full Members. According to Higgins, there was nothing in the ICC's articles of association which stated that any resolution needed to first come through a sub-committee. Further, there was no mention of the fact that any resolution on a particular aspect of the game could only come through a "sub-committee with the mandate in that area". Higgins stated that no committee had any exclusive rights to putting forward ideas only within their scope of operations.

According to Higgins, it was not necessary to give the Members "three months" notice for the proposals to be studied, as argued by Dharmadasa. The period, he said, was necessary only if the resolutions were being tabled in front of the Full Council. The ICC's Full Council meets in June every year.