Archive for the ‘Saskatchewan MMA Law’ Category

With the recent creation of the Saskatchewan Athletics Commission and with the Province set to host their first UFC event in August, 2015 the SAC has now finalized their professional MMA Rules.

I have obtained a copy and you can access these here –Saskathewan Pro MMA Rules

The rules largely mirror the so-called unified rules of MMA with few changes.  Some of the highlights are as follows –

  • The conventional weight classes are used from Flyweight to Super Heavyweight
  • Weigh ins must take place 24-30 hours pre event
  • The one pound weight allowance for non title matches is in force
  • Flyweight and Bantamweight fighters cannot have a difference of more than three pounds between contestants
  • Featherweight, Lightweight and Welterweight fighters  cannot have a difference of more than five pounds between contestants
  • Remaining weight classes cannot have a difference of more than 7 pounds between contestants (but the commission has the discretion to deviate from this restriction)
  • a one hour grace period is in place for fighters who fail to make weight on their first attempts
  • The commission does have the discretion to allow catch weight events
  • One day elimination tournaments are prohibited
  • A minimum 14 day suspension is in place for all contestants and for those who fight a 4th or 5th round this is increased to 21 days
  • Events can take place in a ring or cage
  • Rounds must be between 3-5 minutes in length
  • The 10 point must system is adopted
  • The WADA Prohibited list is adopted with the AC having drug testing abilities and the language appears broad enough to allow both in and out of competition testing

The Prestige Fight Club found themselves entangled in Canada’s criminal justice system after hosting an unsanctioned MMA event last year in Saskatchewan.

Following the event Criminal Charges were laid against two individuals involved for hosting an illegal prizefight contrary to section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code.  In response the individuals charged sued the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association, alleging that the SMAA was abusing its powers of oversight of amateur MMA in the Province.

In a press release issued today by Prestige, both the criminal and civil cases have reached a compromised end.  The Criminal charges ended by way of a conditional discharge (meaning a finding of guilt is made but no conviction is registered so long as the judicially imposed conditions are met.)   The conditions are reportedly to keep the peace for 90 days and further a charitable donation in lieu of a fine for several thousand dollars.  The Civil suit has apparently been dropped as well as part of the plea bargain reached with the Government.

It is also rumoured that the Province will strip the SMAA of their ability to oversee amateur MMA in the Saskatchewan.

The full press release reads as follows:

________________________________________________

Prestige Fight Club MMA is happy to announce that they have reached a deal with the Saskatchewan Government in regards to charges laid in conjunction with Prestige’s September 28th, 2013 event. Charges stemmed from a new law created with the passing of Bill 209. Prestige Fight Club and the Saskatchewan Government have agreed that a conditional discharge would be in the best interest of all parties involved, thus best thing for the advancement of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the Province.
Presiding Judge Kovatch , states he felt at no time did Prestige intentionally or maliciously try to break the law.

“We feel this is a huge victory for Prestige and for MMA” says Cord Crowthers who, along with Derek Daku, is a founding partner in Prestige Fight Club MMA. Crowthers states, “We have always felt that, if outside observers were given a chance to examine the facts, common sense would prevail and it would be obvious that no malicious intent was meant and no laws were premeditatedly broken.”

The discharge opens up the door for all promotors to move forward on a level playing field, and sets the stage for Prestige to apply for their license to host Saskatchewan’s first all Professional MMA event.

“We want to bring the best possible talent to the fans of Saskatchewan” says Daku. “That means from fighters from Saskatchewan, other parts of Canada and from around the World.” Crowthers goes on to say, “The Prestige Brand will be one of the biggest stages in Canadian MMA, and is looking to give the fans more than they could ever expected from an MMA event here at home!”

The second part of the deal is to start fresh and Crowthers & Daku have taken the initiative in doing just that by agreeing to stay their law suit against the Saskatchewan Government and the Saskatchewan Mixed Martial Arts Association(SMAA). With the same intent the Saskatchewan Government has ask for Prestige’s input in regards to helping with policy , while forming the new Pro Commission regulations and structure. Crowthers stated that their lawsuit was set in motion because “…we had no other option and our backs were up against the wall with the way events unfolded. This discharge, from all charges, allows Prestige to focus on what’s important and we have full expectations the Government wants the same. The goal now is to bring the best possible product to a very savvy market here in our Province.”

If the rumours are true, in regards to time frames, Prestige Fight Club MMA is looking to host their first professional show by the fall. Crowthers and Daku plan to keep the City of Weyburn as the home of Prestige and to host the Inaugural Professional event at Crecent Point Place.

“The city has been behind us from day one and we plan to show them our gratitude in a big way,” states Crowthers.

Prestige Fight Club MMA has hinted that they will be looking at new markets in Saskatchewan in the near future, but when pressed on whether or not they will look outside the Province, Daku says, “only time will tell.”

 

Two more Provinces now have professional MMA and other combat sports officially legalized.

Saskatchewan’s Athletic’s Commission Act and New Brunswick’s Combat Sport Act have now both received Royal Assent with Saskatchewan’s law coming into force on May 1, 2014 and New Brunswick’s law coming into force on May 21, 2014.

You can click here for a summary of the legal framework set out by these laws.

Saskatchewan

New Brunswick

Saskatchewan Bill 108

 

 

 

 

 

Less than a year following passage of Bill S-209 the landscape for professional MMA in Canada continues to take shape with another Province formally legalizing the sport.

On March 18, 2014 the Saskatchewan Athletics Commission Act  (Bill 108) passed Third Reading.  The Act creates a Province wide Athletics Commission which will regulate professional boxing, MMA and “other prescribed sport(s)” in the Province.

The Act comes into force on proclamation.  Once in force the Lieutenant Governor in Council will pass appropriate regulations setting out the specific details for professional MMA in the Province.

The Third Reading was direct and to the point.  Below is the transcript of the proceedings in full:

Mr. Michelson: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am
instructed by the Standing Committee on Intergovernmental
Affairs and Justice to report Bill No. 108, The Athletics
Commission Act without amendment.

The Speaker: — It has been moved by the Chair of the
Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice report that the Bill No.
108, The Athletics Commission Act be reported without
amendment. Is the Assembly ready for the question?

Some Hon. Members: — Question.

The Speaker: — It has been moved by the Chair that the . . .
Okay. We have a new script and I went a little too close to the
top here.

When shall this Bill be considered in Committee of the Whole?
I recognize the Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport.

Hon. Mr. Doherty: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I request leave
to waive consideration in Committee of the Whole on this bill
and that the bill be now read the third time.

The Speaker: — The minister has requested leave to waive
consideration in Committee of the Whole on Bill No. 108, The
Athletics Commission Act without amendment and that the bill
be now read the third time. Is leave granted?

Some Hon. Members: — Agreed.

The Speaker: — The minister may proceed to move third
reading.

[14:30]

THIRD READINGS

Bill No. 108 — The Athletics Commission Act

Hon. Mr. Doherty: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move that
this bill be now read the third time and passed under its title.

The Speaker: — It has been moved by the minister that Bill
No. 108, The Athletics Commission Act be now read the third
time and passed under its title.

Is the Assembly ready for the question?

Some Hon. Members: — Question.

The Speaker: — Is it the pleasure of the Assembly to adopt the
motion?

Some Hon. Members: — Agreed.

The Speaker: — Carried.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel: — Third reading of
this bill.

SMAA lawsuit screenshot

Following criminal charges being laid after hosting an amateur mixed martial arts event without SMAA approval, the Prestige Fight Club has now sued the Provincial Government and the SMAA.

I have obtained a copy of the pleadings which were filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan, Regina Registry on March 13, 2014.  Prestige alleges that the SMAA is abusing its powers of oversight of amateur MMA in the Province.  Specifically the lawsuit alleges that the SMAA has unlawfully restrained trade by doing as follows:

a.  Restricting the sanctioning of amateur mixed martial arts events to its own members, who are selected to the SMAA in an arbitrary and unfair manner.

b.  Denying the public at large, including non-SMAA members and the Plaintiffs, the means and ability to host amateur mixed martial arts events in a legal manner or at all.

c.  Denying the public at large, including non-SMAA members and the Plaintiffs, from continuing business activities in their chosen profession

The lawsuit further alleges that the Provincial Government was negligent in granting the SMAA regulatory power to oversee amateur MMA in the Province and further that it failed to properly oversee the SMAA’s use of power.

Prestige is not only seeking damages for “nullified business opportunities” but also aggravated damages, exemplary damages and further seeks to strip the SMAA of their regulatory powers arguing the SMAA made “false, inaccurate or misleading” representations to the Government in the process of obtaining their regulatory powers.

I should note that none of the allegations have been proven in Court and the Defendants are expected to file their reply to the lawsuit shortly.

Without weighing in on the merits of the lawsuit there is one point worth stressing for those who follow regulatory issues in Canadian MMA.  Even if all of the allegations are true these likely do not excuse hosting an MMA event without approval from the body designated by a Province to oversee such events .  In the event of wrongful denial of a licence to host an MMA event the proper course would be to challenge the regulatory bodies decision through judicial review.  Going ahead with an event without complying with the requirements of section 83 of the Criminal Code can give rise to prosecution and despite this lawsuit the Criminal charges following Prestige’s September 28 event remain before the Courts.

Saskatchewan Hansard Debate Photo

The Saskatchewan Athletics Commission Act, which will legalize pro MMA and other combat sports in the Province, is up for second reading and is presently being debated by the Saskatchewan government.

It appears there is momentum in place and the law will likely pass but there is debate about the particulars of the proposed law.  Now is an opportune time for stakeholders in the MMA community in Saskatchewan to contact their MLA to ensure your feedback is received.

Some of the more interesting concerns noted relate to the possible need for a Fighter’s Association and also disability benefits for competitors.   Regarding a Fighter’s Association MLA Buckely Belanger commented that a lifetime in contact sports can take its toll  and “I think a lot of players recognize that and that’s why you have the NHL Players’ Association to look after their members.  And you would assume and hope that a commission of this sort that looks after the mixed martial arts fight contests, that they also look after their participants as well.  I think that goes without saying that it’s something that’s really, really important when it comes to this particular art itself“.

With respect to possible disability benefits for combatants the same MLA noted as follows:

And again I know that people could legally protect themselves by having the participants or the combatants sigh a waiver and full well know what they’re getting into.  But…I think it’s incumbent upon the higher supporters of this particular sport, and that being government, that they put the proper protection in place to ensure that if a fighter gets hurt, or wore, gets brain injury, then that there is provisions to ensure that they have a decent income after if they get injured, and that there’s provisions that would care for them following their career if there is some MMA event in the province of Saskatchewan”

I have compiled the full debate transcripts here which are worth reviewing for those interested in Combat Sports regulatory issues:

Saskatchewan Hansard Debates re Athletic Commission Act

Criminal Code Image

Last September I highlighted an amateur MMA event which took place in Weyburn Saskatchewan without SMAA sanctioning.  (The SMAA is the body designated by Order in Council 479/2013 with the power to sanction and oversee amateur combat sports in Saskatchewan in compliance with the Criminal Code).

In a move that should come as no surprise to those that participated in the event it is reported that charges have now been laid.   Marlo Pritchard of the Weyburn Police Service provided the following media release:

_______________________________

Charges laid in MMA event Investigation

On September 28th  2013, a mixed martial arts event, promoted by Prestige Fight Club, was held in Weyburn. Allegations at the time was that the event was non sanctioned and as a result a police investigation was commenced.

This investigation was as a result of changes to the Criminal Code which came into effect in June 2013. The changes to the Criminal code require events such as a Mixed Martial Arts contest to receive sanctioning under the authority of a provincially authorized athletic board or commission.

The investigation and prosecutorial review have  been completed and as a result charges of ‘Engaging in a Prize Fight’, contrary to Section 83(1) of the Criminal Code have been laid against the owner and a promoter of Prestige Fight Club.

A 48 year old male from Beinfait, Saskatchewan, and a 45 year old male from Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan have been issued a Summons to appear for Court on Tuesday March 11th at 10am in the Weyburn Court House.

_____________________________________________________________________

It is unfortunate it had to come to this, however, these charges serve as a teachable moment that unless events are held in jurisdictions with the proper legal framework required by the Criminal Code, prosecutions for illegal ‘prize fights’ are now a reality in a post Bill S-209 world.

Many jurisdictions in Canada lack this framework.  The upcoming Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Championship Series #3   in Ontario is another event which may face a similar fate.  Anyone considering participating in this event would be wise to contact the Provincial government for assurances that prosecutions will not follow.  It is unlikely the Province would provide such an assurance.

While there is much work to be done before a proper framework for Amateur MMA exists throughout Canada, the solution is not to host unsanctioned events.  Stakeholders are better served lobbying their Provinces to pass appropriate laws.  Until that time participating in events in Provinces lacking a legal framework risk colliding with the Criminal Code.

Saskatchewan MMA law

Earlier this year the Government of Saskatchewan legalized amateur MMA and other combat sports and announced plans to create a Provincial Athletic Commission to address professional combat sports.  The first legislative step to make this a reality has now taken place.

The Government introduced Bill 108 “An Act Respecting the Athletics Commission and Professional Contests or Exhibitions“.  You can read the Bill here:

Saskatchewan Athletics Commission Act

The Bill proposes a Province wide commission tasked with licencing and regulating “Professional Contests or Exhibitions” which are defined to include pro boxing, MMA, and any other “prescribed sport” which leaves open the possibility of a more expansive interpretation of section 83 of the Criminal Code.

Bill 108 passed first reading on November 5, 2013.   Now is the time for stakeholders in the combat sports community to review Bill 108 and give the Government feedback about any desired changes before it is finalized and passes into law.

SMAA AMMA Rulebook logo

Further to Saskatchewan’s Order in Council passed earlier this year legalizing amateur combat sports, the Province has now published their rules for amateur MMA, Full Contact Martial Arts, Kickboxing and Muay Thai.

You can access a copy below:

SMAA Amateur MMA Rulebook

SMAA Full Contact Kickboxing and Thai Boxing Rulebook

In addition to publishing the Rules, the SMAA website has a list of upcoming sanctioned amateur events listed including the Province’s first properly sanctioned amateur MMA Event scheduled to take place this weekend.   With this Saskatchewan can now be welcomed to Canada’s legal MMA landscape!

Prestige Fight Club Advertisement

Update June 24, 2014 – The criminal charges have apparently come to end by way of conditional discharge

_____________________________________________________________

Update January 30, 2014– it is now reported that Criminal Charges are being pressed as a result of this event

_____________________________________________________________

 

Update October 15, 2013 – Marlo Pritchard, Chief of Police for the City of Weyburn, confirms this matter is still under investigation advising as follows “the Weyburn Police Service is investigating an allegation of an unsanctioned MMA event that was held here earlier in the fall. The investigation is ongoing

_________________________________________________________________

Update October 2, 2013 – Melanie Bauman, a lawyer with the Government of Saskatchewan, advises as follows:

The province is making arrangements to form a provincial commission to be operational in the summer of 2014.  As a result, if any professional events are held before the proper legislation and regulations are in place, these events will be illegal. The Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association is the body with authority to sanction amateur combative sports. If amateur events are held without SMAA sanctioning, these events will be illegal.

 Regarding the Sept. 28th Prestige event, the Weyburn City Police are currently investigating the allegation of the event being non-sanctioned.

________________________________________________________________

Update September 29, 2013 – The event has now taken place and indeed did not have SMAA sanctioning.   Today the SMAA confirms that “the event in Weyburn was never scheduled to be an SMAA sanctioned event.“.  The question now is what, if anything, will be the Province of Saskatchewan’s response.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Update September 26, 2013MMASucka reports that Prestige FC President Cord Crowthers acknowledges that this event is not sanctioned and will still proceed quoting as follows “The rumors that you hear online are 95%-99% outrageous, the only thing that’s true is that our show is still a non-sanctioned show.”

He provides the following reason for the lack of sanctioning by SMAA:

The bottom line is we met with them on August 30, four weeks before the show along with the government. They absolutely felt that we could have the show sanctioned by the 28th. They told us they couldn’t get the show sanctioned by the 28th – we think that is absolutely untrue since they are doing a show two weeks after our show, just down the road and they have had plenty of time to sanction that show. It is a lot of he said, she said; I don’t like this person, I don’t like that person kind of thing. The SMMA needs to get off their butts, work with all the groups of Saskatchewan, stop playing favorites and realize they’re not a group; they’re a commission now. Their job is not to have me as a member, it’s to oversee my show and make sure we do things right. It’s what everybody wants, but they only want to work with their friends and their so-called partners.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

The Prestige Fight Club is advertising an event scheduled to take place in Weyburn, Saskatchewan on September 28, 2013.

As things currently stand professional MMA is still illegal in Saskatchewan and amateur MMA events can only be legally held  with regulation of the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association.

I have been advised by  a Senior Policy Analyst for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport that as of today this scheduled event is not sanctioned by the SMAA.   Unless this changes this means that this event will be, on the face of it, in violation of section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code.

The government further advises me that they are aware of this event and that “Conversations have taken place with the local police, city council (and) justice officials“.  It is unclear if this event is still going to proceed but if it does we will all get a first hand glimpse of what the consequences of unsanctioned MMA will be in a post Bill S-209 world.