We were recently made aware of the rather confusing experience a member of a national professional society had at the entity’s annual meeting. The problem was that there appeared to be a lack of understanding on the part of the secretary and chairman of the proper presentation and procedural requirements before the meeting.
For example, motions awaiting consideration (and if seen fit, approval) were presented as resolutions in apparent complete ignorance of the prescribed process. To make matters worse a resolution was retrospectively moved and seconded after having been put to the vote. Unfortunately it created the impression that the outcome of voting had been predetermined, and that the vote was a mere formality.
While this may have been excusable in a less formal environment of a small club or community agency, it did not fit the purpose of a national professional body requiring far reaching decisions. In this particular case the motion was that of the organisation’s name change, which carried financial and regulatory consequences. We recommend a prescriptive format with meeting procedure of all incorporated societies and charitable trusts that is not be abandoned in favour of a less formal and more relaxed approach.
It must be considered that the conduct of meetings is prescribed by law and documented in an organisation’s constitution or trust deed. There are legal consequences arising from decisions taken and recorded. The potential outcome is that any variations and departure from the prescribed format can be challenged and appealed. In most situations it is important to ensure that the person chairing the meeting and the minute secretary are fully aware of their responsibilities and follow correct meeting procedure at all times.
The New Zealand Association Resource Centre is able to give advice and assistance with meeting procedure, including on-site familiarisation and officers’ professional development.