In this edition we describe some areas which may assist Clubs in the conduct of meetings of members, including the AGM. Meetings of members other than the AGM are variously described as general meetings, extraordinary meetings or special meetings.
1. Meeting Rules
Most Club Constitutions only have limited and general provisions for the conduct of member meetings. Some Clubs may have adopted “standing orders” or “meeting bylaws” but this is rare. Accordingly, the Chair generally conducts the meeting on the basis of fairness to members and time honoured traditions of the Club.
Some members at Clubs are renowned for their “points of order” and “requests to suspend standing orders”. This request is sometimes made despite the fact that the Club may not have any “standing orders”. Standing orders are simply the rules adopted by a Club for the orderly conduct of meetings. A point of order is simply a request by a member from the floor to the Chair to clarify a procedure in the conduct of the meeting.
In the vast majority of cases, Clubs happily and productively conduct AGM’s (and member meetings) without having adopted meeting rules. However, on some occasions, issues are contentious, emotions run high, personalities clash and the AGM deteriorates. The skill of a capable Chair can calm these events. However, the prior adoption of meeting rules can greatly assist the Chair and provide a framework in which members can express themselves.
Meeting rules may deal with such things as the number of speakers for and against a motion, the maximum time a person may speak on a motion, limit the number of times a person may speak on a motion and also deal with the authority of the Chair to determine issues.
Clubs should consider adopting meeting rules to assist in the orderly conduct of all member meetings including the AGM. The meeting rules can be amended from time to time. However, the meeting rules cannot be inconsistent with the Club’s Constitution.
2. Election Rules
Similarly, most Club Constitutions only have limited and general provisions for the conduct of elections for Board or Committee positions. There is a growing number of Clubs that have adopted election rules. Some members at Clubs are renowned for their purported experience in the conduct of elections. Queries raised from the floor in relation to the conduct of an election can arouse tensions at the AGM and in some cases, can lead to volatility and abandonment of the AGM.
In the vast majority of cases Clubs happily and satisfactorily conduct elections for office bearers without having adopted election rules. In fact, some Clubs may feel that it is hardly necessary to hold an election as it is difficult to recruit the required number of office bearers.
Nevertheless in those circumstances when tensions run high during an election, the skill of a capable Chair can calm these events. However, the prior adoption of election rules can greatly assist the Chair and provide a framework to which members can have reference and understanding.
Election rules may deal with such things as who is eligible for nomination as an office bearer, the method of voting for the election, the appointment of a returning officer to conduct the election, whether the scrutineers representing a nominee may be present at the count, the declaration of the count and what is to occur in the event of nominees receiving an equal number of votes.
Again, the adoption and promulgation of the election rules by Clubs assists in the orderly conduct of meetings and reduces the risk of disputes. The election rules however, cannot be inconsistent with the Club’s Constitution.
Accordingly, many Clubs consider the adoption of meeting rules and election rules as an integral part of their governance processes.
Article Published: Clubs News – Spring 2010
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