This really is a very simple question and can be answered in words of one syllable as: -
‘The one in charge of the match, or frame.’
The deeper and more detailed meaning of ‘referee’ does not only encompass people with an accreditation certificate proving that the prescribed seminars and examinations have been undertaken and passed. It also means anyone who takes charge of any frame of snooker, whether a tournament frame, a competition frame, a OneforSeven frame or even a social frame. The rule book goes as far as to insist that even in a social frame where no referee is available, that the non-striker will be regarded as such ‘for the purpose of the rules’.
This now brings us into the territory of how such a person must behave and how they must be treated.
Without any sort of qualification and when playing pennant and acting as the referee for example, or as a losing player refereeing the next match in a tournament, this player/referee has the same rights, obligations and powers as any referee you can name, up to and including all the black suits on T.V. broadcasts from England that you may see.
The decisions made carry the same weight and may not be argued with. Yes, the player may question any decision and even suggest that clarification be sought from an appropriate and certificated person if one is present, but it must be done respectfully, or at least non-aggressively and the final decision of that player/referee must ultimately be accepted even if the opportunity to get the clarification has been declined.
The player is certainly not allowed to argue or berate the acting referee and is certainly not allowed to abuse them in any way, including verbally.
The acting referee also has the full force of the rule book and the Code of Ethics as back up, is obligated to act as if certificated and accredited, has the power to warn players as to their conduct and also has the power that enables all appropriate actions up to and including the awarding of frames and matches for behaviour bad enough to warrant it.
No sanctioned frame of snooker is valid unless officiated and those officials are referees regardless of whether or not they are accredited, with the rule book actually stating that the referee is responsible for the proper conduct of the game under the rules.
Any referee or acting referee can and will be counselled if it is seen, or can be proven that decisions made are, or were blatantly wrong, but!
The Code of Ethics is specific in saying that the referee’s final decision is final, with no redress open to the player during, or upon conclusion of the frame or match. The final result will stand and cannot be overturned.
Billiards and Snooker are unique in that the rules for both games include the ‘Gentlemanly Conduct’ rule and even though there are other sports where certain types of behaviour are deemed unacceptable it is only in Billiards and Snooker where a player can and must have immediate action taken for even minor infractions against the referee or behaviour incompatible with the term ‘gentleman’.