Do UFC Contracts Comply With Quebec’s Legal Requirements?

The UFC’s jurisdiction hopping business model exposes the promotion to a host of different regulatory requirements.  The peculiarities in different jurisdictions create a variety of legal issues stakeholders must grapple with, for example the requirement to pay a headliner at least 10% of event receipts in Nova Scotia or Quebec’s bizzare rules of ‘mixed boxing’ that seem to be happily ignored for the UFC.

With UFC 186 scheduled to take place in Montreal later this month I had a quick refresher of Quebec’s Regulation Respecting Combat Sports.  Of interest for all fighters under a long term contract, Quebec imposes a host of legal requirements for such contracts to be valid.  Since the UFC has much of its roster under long term deals, the relevant protections set out in s. 169 and 169.1 come into play.  These read as follows with the most interesting provisions reproduced in bold:

169.  Any contract that binds a contestant and an organizer for more than 1 combat sports event shall not run for more than 2 years. The organizer shall send a copy of such contract to the board within 10 days following its signing along with any amendment to the contract, not later than before the holding of the sports event.
169.1.  A contract binding an organizer and a contestant for more than one sports event shall provide for or stipulate, in particular,
  (1)    the duration of the contract and the number of scheduled bouts;
  (2)    the amount of the purse for each bout;
  (3)    the renegotiation of the contestant’s remuneration if the contestant takes part in a championship bout before the end of his contract; the renegotiation will involve, in particular, the contestant’s remuneration and the expenses relating to sparring partners and training camps;
  (4)    that the organizer may not charge more than 10% of the contestant’s purse if he provides him with the services of a trainer;
  (5)    that the organizer undertakes to pay all the contestant’s travel expenses if a bout is to take place outside Québec;
  (6)    except if the contract is cancelled, that the contestant undertakes not to sign a contract with another organizer before the expiry date of the contract;
  (7)    that the organizer undertakes not to transfer his rights to a third person, unless the contestant agrees to the transfer and benefits from at least 80% of the difference between the consideration paid for the transfer of the rights for each bout and the amount of the purse to which the contestant is entitled for each bout; and
  (8)    the cancellation of the contract
  (a)      if the organizer’s or contestant’s licence is cancelled or suspended for the unexpired duration of the contract; or
  (b)      if the contestant is declared unfit to fight following a medical examination for the unexpired duration of the contract.

Assuming the language from Eddie Alvarez’s 2012 Contract is used routinely, UFC contracts contain specific language requiring fighters to ‘execute and comply’ with the requirements of Bout Agreements from the jurisdiction governing their bout.  The requirement  includes an agreement to comply with “any other contract required to be executed by law” (ie – in Quebec the above).  More importantly, the contracts state “to the extent of any conflict between (a UFC Contract) and a Bout Agreement with respect to a Bout, the Bout Agreement shall control“.  In other words; the above statutory requirements may trump any contradictory terms of a UFC Contract in Quebec.

So how can any offending terms be reconciled?  UFC Contracts deal with this as well reading that if there are any offending terms in the contract in any circumstance, and if these offending provisions cannot be modified in a way to make them legal, valid and enforceable then “the offending provision…shall be considered deleted“.

While its fun to make light of Quebec turning a blind eye to their bizarre ‘mixed boxing’ rules to accommodate the UFC, the regulations regarding contractual requirements would be no laughing matter if a fighter was displeased and took advantage of Quebec’s legal requirements to challenge contracts that don’t include all of the above protections.

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