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Herbert Smith Freehills' Disputes Consultant Sylvia Schenk has been awarded a high German civilian honour for her commitment to upholding the integrity of sport in the country.

At a ceremony on 7 June 2018, at the official residence of the President at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin, Sylvia was honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit. This is awarded to individuals for their outstanding political, economic, cultural or intellectual achievements, and for voluntary work.

Sylvia has played an active role encouraging fair competition in sport, especially anti-doping. She chairs the Working Group on Sport of Transparency International Germany. Last year she was appointed as a member of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association's (FIFA) independent human rights advisory board.

Sylvia is also a member of the INTERPOL Standing Committee on Ethical Matters and on the Advisory Board on Integrity and Corporate Responsibility of Daimler AG.

Joining Herbert Smith Freehills in 2016 as a Consultant, Sylvia is part of the firm's disputes resolution and human rights practices and is based in Frankfurt.

She advises on all aspects of compliance, sports law, sustainability and human rights. As an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Sylvia has experience in doping cases and other sports-related disputes. She also advises on the UN Guiding Principles for Human Rights and Business.

Prior to becoming a lawyer Sylvia was a Labour Court judge at the Labour Court in Offenbach, Germany, 1979 to 1989, and City councillor (Stadtraetin) responsible for Legal Affairs, Sport, Women and Housing of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1989 – 2001.

She was also a competing athlete at the Olympic Summer Games Munich 1972 (800m running) and has served as a volunteer on national and international sport bodies for 40 years.   

A statement of the presidential office said:

"Sylvia Schenk, a] lawyer and a participant of the Olympics in 1972, was previously the President of the German Cycling Federation and the Chair of Transparency International Germany. Today she is the Chair of the Working Group on Sport in Germany. She has long been committed to transparency and integrity in sport and the consistent fight against doping and match-fixing. With the aim of an open culture in associations, she advocates for the breaking up of structures that promote misconduct as well as for stakeholder involvement, especially of the athletes

Michael Dietrich, Office Managing Partner for Herbert Smith Freehills in Germany, said:

"Congratulations to Sylvia – this is a fantastic achievement. The award highlights the importance of our corporate social responsibility work and pro bono programme, which is coordinated by Sylvia and fully supported by the firm."