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CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT

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

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

At a Special General Meeting two proposals were considered; raising the membership fees with a £20.00 bar voucher or raising the membership fees without the voucher. The first proposal went through. However, some of the disgruntled members have mooted to join another Conservative Club, buy an IA Tickets from that Club and come into our club.

A Committee member said that we would have to raise a bye-law to stop them doing that. Would we be allowed to stop a member of another club entering our club with an IA Ticket?

I am sorry to learn that following an increase of membership subscription some members have suggested that they will resign, become members of a neighbouring Conservative Club and then continue to use the Club facilities under an IA Ticket.

l confirm that if the Committee are happy for these members to carry out their threat, assuming that the neighbouring Club will elect them to membership then they could visit the Club as IA Ticket holders. However, in view of the fact that l think it would be unlikely for any Committee to accept this situation l can advise you that by reference to Regulation 8 of the Rules and Regulations governing the IA Ticket Scheme, the Committee of each Club reserve the right to refuse the admission of any IA Ticket holder if they consider this to be in the interests of the Club.

Therefore, the Committee could decide that any member who resigns shall not be admitted as an IA Ticket holder for, say, three years. I think this would be a very effective deterrent but one which you may not wish to even consider until and unless the threatened resignations arrive. There is no requirement for the Committee to introduce a bye-law.

An important point to remember is that if these members decide to simply not pay their subscriptions, then they will automatically not be admitted to the Club either as IA Ticket holders or as Members’ Guests since they will be considered tmder your Club Rules as being indebted to the Club.

 

Can you confirm that ticketed events are subject to VAT, and if so, where in your book is it covered?

I can conlirm that ticketed events are subject to VAT. This is because the ticket is providing a service to the ticket holder. The question you have raised is not specifically covered in my book, you will appreciate that the subject of VAT alone could become a book in itself, however, I shall be sure to include it in the second edition.

 

Could you please inform me if a member of a Conservative club can be banned or discriminated against for being a member of another political party? I have been led to believe that the proposed Equality Act will forbid anyone from being discriminated against because of their politics.

l can confirm that a private members’ club which is established to pursue lawful objects and which requires members to hold and maintain specific beliefs or views can legitimately, without the need of justification, either prevent a person from becoming a member or expel, in accordance with the rules, a person who is a member on the grounds that they do not, or have ceased, to hold the stated beliefs or views.

Please note the rules of the Club form a contract between the members with each other and the members and the Club. Like a contract, the rules clearly set out the terms of becoming and remaining a member. lf a member is in breach of the terms of the contract then they can no longer expect to be, or become, part of the Club.

The proposed Equality Act, to which you have referred, bears no relation to the lawful objects of a private members’ club.

Conservative Clubs do not discriminate against persons who are members of different political parties; such persons are simply not qualiiied to become or remain Conservative Club members.

 

Our local licensing ofiicer has made an appointment wit me to discuss the Club’s activities in respect of functions. The Club rents the function room out for mernbers’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc and this year we have held around 10 private functions for Members. The licensing oflicer has suggested that we are not dealing with this matter correctly and that according to our rules a member can only bring in a guest twice in one month. I think there is confusion in respect of interpreting our rules, can you please advise me on this matter.

I am very concerned to leam that the local licensing officer has asked to have a meeting with you and has suggested the Club is not operating in good faith in respect of functions. I confirm that your interpretation of your Club’s Members’ Guests Rule is completely correct. There is no restriction on the number of guests who may be introduced by a member. The only restriction is on the same member being admitted to the Club more than twice in one month and even then the Committee have the authority under the Rules to give consent for additional visits to be granted. There is no evidence to suggest that you are not dealing with the subject of members’ private functions either outside the terms of your Club Rules or outside the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003.

Please see below an extract from my Club Law & Management book relating to this subject. I note that you have ordered a copy of this book which I hope will be of assistance to you.

Members’ Clubs is one which has become increasingly important, since almost all clubs now rely to a greater or lesser extent, on income generated from the sales of drink at private functions promoted by either individual members or outside organisations.

The most interesting change introduced by the 2003 Act is that members' guests introduced on a normal day-to-day basis will be permitted to purchase drinks. Whilst in ‘the real world ’ such a practice has been accepted in many clubs, strictly speaking the previous rules of almost all clubs prevented such sales.

Consequently, drink may be supplied lawfully to a non-member attending any event promoted by a member; provided the non-member is a bona fide guest ofthe member and has been properly admitted to the club in accordance with the club fs rules.

Any member wishing to hold a private function or party in their club will be able to do so and the numberoffunctions is notrestricted in number Naturally, a person who is not a member approaches a club with a request to hire a room in order to hold a private function, then the club could legitimately ask if the person would like to become a member Provided such persons met the membership requirements ofthe clubs rules, their election to membership would automatically make the event a members ’ private function at which his or her guests could be lawfully supplied with drink.

The rules of almost every club put no restriction on the number of guests a member may introduce at any one time but do, rightly, restrict the number of occasions the same guest may be introduced in any one month.

The Act contains no reference to the way in which clubs should manage the introduction of guests and no reference to the number of members’ functions or parties which could be held Such functions would. of course, have to be booked and the committee would retain ultimate discretion on whether to agree to a booking, or not.

Therefore, do not accept any criticism or suggested rule amendments concerning this matter from either Licensing Authorities or Police Licensing Officers, and refer any such matters to your affiliated organisation. I have seen some examples of ridiculous suggested ride amendments being passed off as 'legal requirements’ by Licensing Authority Officials; all these suggestions have been withdrawn on being challenged.

 

The Committee co-opted two members on to the Committee this year: There are six members voted on the Committee each year, can one of these co-opted members remain on the committee for a further year or do both of them have to go up for re-election?

A co-opted member of the Committee remains in office for as long as the vacancy which they filled would have lasted. Therefore, if a vacancy would have lasted two years then they would remain on the Committee for the duration of that two year tenure. You will need to establish the terms of election for each of the original vacancies in order to establish the length of time which these two members will complete on the Committee before re-election is required.

 

One of the members of the Committee has put his name forward for the position of President on the nomination sheet. He was convicted for fraud last year but this was in no way connected with the Club. At the time he was allowed to stay on the Committee, he is a keen worker for the Club. The President of our Club has to be able to sign cheques doubling up with the Treasurer or Secretary as they must be signed by two people. Would you be good enough to give us your thoughts on this please?

There is nothing to stop the member in question for standing for office and, if successful, from becoming the President.

ln my opinion, however, it would be preferable if he were elected, for him not to be involved with the Club’s finances either as a cheque signatory or in any other capacity. l am not giving this advice to create any animosity towards the member in question, I simply think that it would be preferable for both him and the Club for another signatory to be found. The signatory does not have to be the President. In any event, I am informed that most banks will be unwilling to accept a person with this type of criminal record as a signatory.

The problem with cases such as this is that a person who has been convicted of fraud will always be accused of any wrong doing which may occur in the future. lf he has nothing to do with the finances at all then he cannot become the obvious suspect if any financial irregularities occur in the Club.

 

The Secretary of our Club has resigned and stated that she will take her name off the Club’s registration document. I am now acting Secretary. What action should I take to alter the names on this document as it is feared that the removal of her name will close the Club?

I confirm that you simply need to advise the Local Licensing Authority, in writing, that you are the Acting Secretary and the "nominated person" in respect of the Licensing Act 2003. The Club’s Club Premises Certincate will be automatically altered by the Licensing Authority. No further action is required.