PROTESTS NOT ENCOURAGED

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PROTESTS NOT ENCOURAGED TRIALS MARSHALS ARE ” JUDGES OF FACT” BY NEW R.A.C. COMPETITION RULES

THE new edition of the General competition Rules of the Royal

Automobile Club, which are now in force, contains a number of interesting alterations and amendments.

The most important of these alterations -concern protests and appeals, which may sometimes be necessary even in the best regulated competitions, but in which the judgment of a Solomon is often needed to ensure an equitable verdict. New rules have been made, designed to obviate many such ‘protests, when in the end it is merely a case of one man’s

statement against another’s. It is felt that the underlying principle of a competition should be that competitors must accept the ruling of officials on matters of fact. With this object Rule No. 193, concerning the Duties of judges, has been

greatly expanded. In trials, and in competitions other than races, ” Judges ” have rarely been appointed under that name, the duty of a ” Judge,” as defined in the old competition rules, being to declare the order in which the competitors pass the finishing line. Any such declaration has always been final and without appeal, and has, in fact, in times past been the only official ruling against which no protest could be made.

14 the new rules judges are divided into three classes, and officials formerly known in trials as observers ‘or marshals may now be deemed to be “judges of fact.” The three classes are (a) Finishing judges, whose duties are as before, (h) Judges of Fact, and (c) Assistant Judges.

It is laid down that in a competition during which :a decision has to be given whether or not a competitor has touched or passed a given line, or upon any other fact of the same type as laid down in the supplementary regulations of the competition, one Or several judges of Fact shall be nominated. Such judges may have assistant judges, but in cases of disagreement the final decision shall be given by the judge himself. The decision of these Judges is final, and no protest against their decisions upon a matter which they have officially been appointed to decide can 110W be

admitted. This is an alteration of the first importance, for now it is no use for a competitor to protest . that his car just kept moving on a hill when an observer (now a Judge) says that it stopped.

There is the somewhat curious addition to the rule, that the promoters may employ a cinematograph or other camera to facilitate the decisions of the judges, but that the evidence of any Other camera will not be taken into consideration. The idea that “the camera cannot lie ” is no longer tenable, but nevertheless a competitor in possession of a film showing him not to have acted it a manner in accordance with the statement of a Judge would have a definite grievance. Presumably this rule has been added to prevent any sort of question upon an official decision, so that the matter is finally closed without any argument.

This rule, taken as a whole, is all to the good, for there have been many instances when it has been impossible for the stewards to sift conflicting evidence, as in a stop and restart test, when a car is called upon to accelerate, stop momentarily astride a line, and at once accelerate away again. In the rapid stop required, a competitor may have thought that his machine came. to rest, whereas actually the wheels never ceased turning. Afterwards no one can prove anything. Whether or not it is also a ” fact that a car arrives at a check at a certain time is a point not specifically gone into in the new rides, yet one capable of causing much argument. In rides nos. 175-182, which set out the duties of the time

keepers; no alteration has been made. All these rules are evidently framed more for a -race meeting or speed event than for a trial, and indeed this is a Criticism which might at one time have been levelled against the whole of the G.C.R.

Indeed, of rules 175-182, the only bne really applicable to a trial is 179; ” to record such times as are required by the conditions of the competition.” It may be noted that rule no. 178 bids timekeepers, to use for timing only such apparatus as is approved by the R.A.C.,” but few clocks or watches used for timing the arrival of competitors at a club trial check will have been sent to the governing body for approval ! Actually the arrival of a competitor at a certain point at a certain time is indisputably a ” fact,” and since the timekeeper is there to decide exactly that question, it may well be held that he is :a ” judge of Fact.” The matter is one which would bear amplitieation by the R.A.C. Possibly organisers can cover themselves under rule 191. (b), which states that supplementary regulations for the competition must inditate what are the facts that are to be judged by Judges

of Fact. However, application of this rule to cover any point could rule out protests altogether. Another amendment concerning pro tests relates to time limit in which protests as to validity of entry, qualification of competitor, handicap, etc., may be lodged. This should be done at least one hour before the start, or Should the conditions render this impracticable, at the latest within half an hour of the conclusion of the competition. What good a protest after the competition would do if a compel itt,r had not been allowed to start is not clear ! Presumably in this case it would be held that the protest

should have been made earlier.

Then, assuming that a competitor has been able to find, something against which under the new rules he may legally protest, one conies to appeals to the R.A.C. against the decision of the Stewards on such a protest. A right of appeal is always available, but notice of intention to appeal must now be given to the Stewards in writing within the hour that follows their decision. Furthermore, an appeal fee of 01 in cash must be paid at the same time, and if the appeal is not proceeded with, the fee is forfeit. The appeal itself must then be lodged within two days of the decision by the Stewards, and the R.A.C. is bound to announce its Verdict within thirty days. A competitor still dissatisfied has one further right of appeal, to the Stewards of the R.A.C. After that he must rest content. Sonic people in the height of their anger against an official decision have been heard to remark that they were prepared to go to the A.I.A.C.R. if

(Continued on page 212).

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