The German Federation for Trotting Horse Breeding, Hauptverband für Traber-Zucht e.V. (HVT), responsible for the granting of licenses for trotting races on all German trotting race tracks, will have to amend its Rules and Regulations. Notwithstanding the age limit of 70 years set by the HVT in agreement with the European umbrella organization, the law firm of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek yesterday was able to obtain an authorization to compete for 72-year-old professional trotting racer Edelbert Ohmer before the Higher Regional Court in Berlin.
Despite a doctor's permit, the HVT had denied Ohmer a professional racer's license for 2012 only because of his age. With the assistance of law firm Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, Ohmer then had petitioned for a preliminary injunction against the HVT and requested the granting of the professional racer's license for 2012 on an interim basis. Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek guided the focus onto the specific characteristics of the case under sports law: "Since the HVT enjoys a monopolistic position, in sports referred to as "single-place principle," all trotting racers in Germany are forced to subject to the HVT Rules and Regulations," explained Dr. Johan-Michel Menke, Lawyer and Sports Law Expert at Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek. In this context, the basic rights, particularly Ohmer's freedom to choose an occupation under Article 12(1) of the German Constitution, would have to be adequately taken into account.
In the second instance, the Higher Regional Court in Berlin (Case 1 U 3/12) held yesterday that Ohmer, as in the past, would be permitted to continue participating in trotting races at the Berlin-Karlshorst trotting race track. In the view of the Higher Regional Court, the age limit could not be found to be compatible with constitutional values. "The HVT was unable to submit sufficient factual grounds for this kind of age limit, such as a specific accident rate at trotting races with older participants."
Dr. Frank Mitzkus, Partner at the firm, summarized: "It has thus been established that until further notice the HVT may not apply the age limit of 70 years in German trotting racing. Unless the proceeding on the merits pending before the Regional Court Berlin uncovers grounds for such an age limit, it will be removed in German, and possibly in European, trotting racing for good."
Counsel to Edelbert Ohmer:
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek Hamburg:
Dr. Frank Mitzkus (Litigation), Dr. Johan-Michel Menke (Sports Law)