The International Motorcycling Federation (“IMF”), the supreme authority on international motorcycling, is composed of national members, according to the principle “one country – one member”. In Kuwait, since 1980, the affiliated member is the Kuwait International Automobile Club (“KIAC”). In 1997, the national authorities approved the validity of another association, the Kuwait Motor Sports Club (“KMSC”). It expressed its desire to join the IMF, considering itself to be a federation that was legitimately entitled to become the unique member of the IMF. The KMSC also initiated proceedings before the national courts seeking to recognize its exclusive status as an association authorized to organize motorsport and motorcycling in Kuwait. A Kuwaiti Court of Appeal agreed with these allegations and ruled in the favour of the KMSC.
On the basis of this decision, the KMSC renewed its request of affiliation to the IMF, as the unique member representing Kuwait. Not satisfied with the IMF’s reaction, the KMSC initiated proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Shortly after, KIAC lodged an appeal with the Court of Cassation, which partially overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal.
As the arbitral tribunal ordered the IMF to rule on KMSC’s application for membership as a full member of the IMF, the latter started the annulment proceedings before the Swiss Federal Tribunal (“the SFT”), on the ground that the arbitral tribunal wrongly upheld its jurisdiction.
The SFT examines the IMF’s Statutes and the arbitration clause they contain. It rejects the IMF’s allegations on the lack of the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction. He also notes that its interpretation is not so broad as to compel an association under Swiss law to accept a member for a membership against its will.