A French court has ordered motorsport's governing body to make a public announcement that the bans imposed on Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds for their part in Formula 1's race-fix scandal have been lifted.
A French court ruled on Tuesday that the decision to ban the two Renault men had been "irregular" and overturned the FIA's decision, meaning both Briatore and Symonds can now return to work in Formula 1. The court found that the FIA did not have the power to decree such a penalty – as neither men held any licenses to compete.
"The FIA can sanction license holders, leaders, members of the ASNs [national sporting authorities], but it cannot with respect to third parties, take measures equivalent to a sanction – in contravention of article 28 of its statutes," the verdict read. "The World Council, by forbidding FIA members and licenses to work with Messrs Briatore and Symonds, on the one hand added a negative condition – to not work with them – which is not provided for within the FIA statutes."
The verdict also suggested there was a conflict of interest in the ban, as former FIA president Max Mosley was already in dispute with Briatore – and he played a part in both the investigation of the matter and the handing down of the penalty.
The court judgment added: "The decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president, who was well known to be in conflict with Briatore, with Mr. Mosley having played a leading role in launching the inquiry and its investigation in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies. The decision [of the FIA World Motor Sport Council] is not annulled but declared irregular, and rendered without effect in its provisions against Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds."
The court added that the FIA will be now forced to notify F1 teams and the public, through adverts in French newspapers, that both Briatore's and Symonds' bans have been lifted.
"The FIA is consequently obliged to notify within two weeks it is lifting the provisions to its members and license holders, particularly the 13 teams entered into the FIA Formula 1 World Championship 2010," it added. "This must be published in the French newspapers, of the choice of Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds – at the FIA's cost."
The FIA is considering appealing the French court's ruling.