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The Highest Administrative Court of the Czech Republic has rendered an important decision regarding the legal position of sportsmen. For the first time it has been decided by a court that the contract between a sportsman and his club might be a labour contract. The Court advised a change in Czech labour law.

 

The Czech court had to decide on a case of a professional ice hockey player. The player was commuting from his hometown to Prague. He claimed the travelling costs as deductible costs at the national tax authorities, based on the labour contract with his club. After considering the respective legal relationship as a business relationship, the tax office refused to accept this tax-deductible item and taxed the player.

 

The ice hockey player went to an administrative court, that did not allow the deduction of these travelling expenses. However having considered the contractual rights and obligations of both parties, this court deemed the contract to be a labour contract, unlike the tax authorities.

 

After that, the player lodged an appeal with the Highest Administrative Court of the Czech Republic. The Highest Administrative Court pointed out that the difficulty of the legal question was based on the lack of legal regulations for professional contracts in the sports field. The Court stated explicitly that this field is legally very unclear.

 

The Highest Administrative Court furthermore stated that the civil law character of the aforementioned contract is valid and in compliance with Czech law even when the contract contains labour law elements. Regarding the specificity of the sport, the Court stated, that in general professional sportsmen’s contracts do not fall within the scope of Labour law – Act No. 262/2006 Coll., Czech Labour Code. A civil law contract takes into account the activities of sportsmen more accurately, the Court added. 

 

In general, the Court did not eliminate the possible use of labour contracts in the area of sports. However, currently, the predominant commercial character of the player-club relationship is correctly reflected in the civil law contract and this contract is fully in compliance with Czech law, until a substantial change in labour law takes place.