The two departments have also been overlapping in practice in recent seasons with clubs more likely to take cases to the tribunal under new rules introduced under Hocking, which means players no longer risk further sanction if their tribunal appeal is unsuccessful.
Under the new system, clubs wanting to take the MRO decision to the tribunal will go through the AFL legal department, with 19 cases going to the tribunal in 2019, compared to 27 in 2018 with just one case successfully overturned.
The tribunal process came under scrutiny during last year’s finals series when Greater Western Sydney forward Toby Greene was not referred to the tribunal following an incident against the Western Bulldogs in the elimination final but found himself in front of the tribunal a week later for a similar incident, which saw him miss the preliminary final.
Figures from the tribunal review also showed that players copped about half the number of suspensions in 2019 as they had in 2018 after the AFL decided to pay free kicks rather than sanction players in an attempt to change on-field behaviour.
The number of weeks missed through suspension dropped from 65 in 2018 to just 28 this season with fines also falling substantially.
The AFL claimed they were seeing less reportable incidents each week as a result of their initiatives however, the acceptability of certain on-field actions was a dominant theme in the opening fortnight of finals.