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April 2007

Committee Members must keep their Meetings Confidential

The confidentiality of committee meetings is paramount to the effective management of a club.

Discussion in committee should remain confidential between committee members. The minutes of committee meetings should merely record the motions and amendments and decisions which are agreed and, again, remain confidential. This does not mean that there are never circumstances in which the membership ought to be informed of what takes place during committee meetings. On occasions there are issues which are of immediate concern to all the membership; or the committee may have discussed some matter referred to it by a general meeting for consideration.

In such cases, the Secretary should arrange for a suitable notice to be posted on the club notice board.

The general membership does not have a right to inspect the committee's minutes. However, a club's auditors will have a right to inspect the committee's minutes in order to satisfy themselves that certain transactions have been authorised.

 

Books

In addition, clubs registered under the Friendly Societies Act are obliged to permit members to examine all books, including all minute books, at any reasonable time.

There are, however, very few A.C.C. members clubs registered as Friendly Societies. Such Clubs are different from those registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act.

No member of the committee is entitled to inform anyone of the proceedings and deliberations of the committee.

If a club is to be served well, then it is essential that the committee should be free to conduct their affairs in a frank and open way.

Surely, few people would serve on committees if they knew that their views were repeated outside the confines of the committee room and, as is so often the case, misinterpreted by being taken out of context and made to appear contrary to the original intentions.

Committees are therefore entitled to insist on the confidentiality of their proceedings and the right of quasi privilege in the conduct of the affairs of the club, while, at the same time, keeping the members informed of matters that affect them generally, but not in respect to individual
members.

Proceedings in committees are not "privileged", but qualified privilege may apply where the person who makes the communication has an interest or duty, legal, moral or social, to make it to a person, or persons, having a corresponding interest or duty to receive such a communication.

In conclusion, therefore, what is said in committee should not be repeated outside the confines of a committee meeting, and committee minutes should remain confidential.