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Club Law and Management

by Philip Smith, Secretary of the A.C.C.

Questions and Answers

 

Q. Could you let us know if there has been any further progress on the Linneweber 1 case? We successfully received the money which we originally claimed but have set it aside until the appeal procedure has been completed.

A. I can confirm there has been no change regarding the position of the appeal money received by the Club relating to the Linneweber case. We are still awaiting the final appeal to be heard and until such time it is advised that a provision is placed on the Club’s accounts relating to this money, although individual Clubs can decide how to use the money in the interim. Some Clubs will have already utilised the money whilst others have refrained from using it just in case the appeal by HMRC is successful. In fairness, most commentators do not expect HMRC to be successful. If there is a specific object that the Club wishes to achieve by using the money which is currently being set aside then you may wish to proceed with the project without waiting for the final appeal to be heard. The appeal process is unlikely to be completed until 2015.

Q. In our Rules it states that a visitor can only visit the Club twice per month although this Rule is seldom enforced. I would prefer the Rule to be either enforced or to remove it altogether. Do you have a view?
A. I agree and suggest that either this Rule is either modified to allow guests to attend the Club more frequently or that it is properly enforced by the Committee. There is a compelling argument to be made that persons attending the Club frequently as guests should really become Members of the Club and perhaps an increased effort should be made to encourage frequent Club guests to apply for Membership.
 
 
 

Q. A question has been raised regarding what would happen if the quorum at a Special General Meeting falls below 30 Members prior to the Meeting being completed. The Rules state that ‘at a Special General Meeting one fifth of the members or 30 members, whichever is the less, shall form a quorum. No want of a quorum occurring after the Presiding Officer has opened the meeting shall make a meeting incompetent to transact business’. Does this mean if the meeting has a quorum at the start then it does not matter if people leave during the meeting?

A.Yes. As long as one fifth of the Members or 30 Members, whichever is the less, are in attendance at the start of the meeting then the meeting can continue and can transact business even if during the meeting the quorum falls below those levels.

 

Q. We are preparing to hold our yearly Committee elections and a Member has asked if they can vote by proxy. Our Rules make no mention of proxy voting, is this something which we can operate?

 A. The Rules of the Club dictate if the practice of proxy voting is permitted and, as is common with most ACC Clubs, the Club’s Rules do not make an allowance for proxy voting. Unless a Club’s Rules make a specific provision regarding being able to vote by proxy then it would not be appropriate to enable proxy voting at a General Meeting. Should the Committee feel strongly about this matter they may wish to examine the prospect of altering the Club’s Rules to allow for voting by proxy. However this is not something that we would ordinarily recommend since it would be difficult to properly manage and would significantly reduce the number of Members attending meetings. Furthermore, it would mean that those who are absent from the meeting would not be part of any voting discussion which may influence the way in which they may have voted.
Q. We have a rule in our Club that only Members are allowed to use the snooker table. Guests who are signed in are not permitted to use the table. With regards to this rule, is a visitor with an IA Ticket viewed as a Member for the duration of their visit or as a guest and how many times can they visit in a single month?.
A. Inter-affiliation Members should be treated as Members of the Club for the duration of their visit although some Clubs do have individual policies concerning snooker tables, notably that a specific Snooker Table may only be used by Members of the Club’s snooker team. We therefore suggest that the Committee take a considered view over this matter and remember that the only way that the ACC Inter Affiliation Scheme functions is by all Clubs participating in the spirit of the scheme as far as possible. I am sure if Members of your Club entered another Conservative Club they may very well like to enjoy all the facilities of the Club, including those of the Club’s snooker tables. The number of occasions that an Inter Affiliation Ticket Holder can visit the Club is a matter for the Committee to determine. We advise Club Committees to be as flexible as possible when it comes to administering the IA Ticket Scheme although we do understand that if a Member is frequently using a Club with their IA Ticket that the Committee may wish to approach them and suggest that they apply for Membership of the Club. Ultimately the admission of any guest or IA Ticket Holder is at the discretion of the Committee.

Q. We allow a dance club to be run in the Club each week for which no fee is imposed and the persons attending are signed in as guests of the Member who runs the dance club. However, the guests always only order tap water and some members of the Committee would like to start charging them for the tap water. Is this permissible?

A. If these classes are not deriving a profit for the Club then the Committee may decide to stop the classes being run or to charge the organiser of the class a fee for usage of the Club’s facilities. This would be a rather more logical step to take than attempting to charge for tap water which would not be lawful. We advise all Clubs to offer free tap water to Members and their guests upon request. Licensed premises, which include Clubs, are legally obligated to provide free tap water to customers. The Club can only refuse to serve tap water to persons whom the Club does not consider to be customers. Therefore, should a person who has already purchased from the Club request a glass of tap water then the Club should provide this free of charge.

 

Q. We are having problems with a specific Committee Member and several Members of the Committee would like to remove him from the Committee. Is this a decision that the Committee can take or would the Club’s Members need to be consulted?

A. The Committee itself cannot remove a Committee Member, only the Members of the Club can authorise such a removal (as the old adage goes, ‘those who elect, reject’). The Committee would therefore have to call a Special General Meeting and ask the Members of the Club to remove him. This does not apply if the Committee Member in question is suspended or expelled from the Club. If the Committee Member is suspended or expelled from the Club then he will be removed from the Committee automatically. If suspended, the Committee Member will not return to the Committee after their suspension has elapsed and would have to wait until the Annual General Meeting in order to be proposed as a candidate for the Committee.

Q. Our Rules state that the Club’s Annual General Meeting should be held in the month of April although our Audit will not be ready until May. Should we delay the AGM?
A. If the Audit is not going to be ready until May then in this circumstance it would be logical to delay the AGM. A notice to this effect should be posted on the Club’s Notice Board. In future I suggest that significant time is given to the Audit to allow the Annual General Meeting to proceed as usual in April. If you wanted to hold the AGM in April, for instance if you felt that Members may complain if the Meeting was not held in April, then the Meeting could be held in April and all other agenda items dealt with apart from the Accounts. The Meeting could then be adjourned until a specific date in May and then resumed to solely deal with the approval of the Club’s Accounts.
Q. We have a Member who has been nominated for the position of Treasurer. We are concerned that they are not aware of what responsibilities the position entails and that they may not be up to the job. Can a Committee block a nomination if the candidate is not suitable?
The Committee does not have any powers to block the nomination. In fact, if there are no other nominations for the position then there will not even be a vote and the nominated person will be automatically elected. The Committee has no power to refuse a nomination. It is for the Members, and not the current Committee to determine whom is elected to positions of responsibility. I suggest that it would be proper to discuss with the nominee the requirements of the position in order to make them aware of what is required if successfully elected They can then make their own decision about whether they wish to stand for election.
Q. We are looking to employ a Club Secretary although we are unsure of the expected remuneration for such a position. Is there a usual amount which is paid to a Club’s Secretary?
A. We cannot suggest the approximate or average salary for a Club Secretary as it would be impossible to put a figure on a job which differs significantly from Club to Club. For instance, for one Club the Secretary may be heavily involved in all aspects of the Club, from Membership queries and renewals, to managing the Club’s employees and dealing with a lot of the financial information concerning the Club. However, another Club Secretary may be ably assisted by a team of people and may not have responsibility for all of the areas listed above. The number of Members that a Club has will also determine the salary level to an extent; the Secretary dealing with a membership of 1000 members will be busier than a Secretary dealing with 300 members. I suggest that the Committee consider the number of hours per week that the Secretary will be expected to work and calculate a salary accordingly. Whilst many Secretaries are remunerated, many are actually volunteers who receive an honorarium which is likely to be significantly less than the amount that would be paid to an employed Secretary who is given a salary and a contract of employment. For most Clubs the role of the Secretary is often a part time role and flexibility can be given to the person undertaking the role. It will also often suit a person who has retired from full time work but still wishes to keep active in a part time role and enjoys participating in a Club environment.

Citation

It has come to our attention that a business called ‘Citation’ may be in the processes of calling Conservative Clubs regarding UK employment law. We received a telephone call from this firm at our offices, believing us to be a Conservative Club, asking us how we dealt with our employees and offering their assistance to us regarding employment law compliance and employee health and safety. They stated that they were calling us after receiving a request from Philip Smith, ACC Secretary, personally. The ACC has not approved Citation as an ACC Recommended Supplier.

If Clubs have specific employment questions please contact our offices where we will be happy to assist.