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Club Law and Management

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

Admission

Q. We have a new Social Secretary who has the idea of charging an admission fee to guests on entertainment nights, is this possible? We have a music licence and pay the PRS but do we need a Public Entertainment Licence to make a charge on non-members? Regarding the signing in of guests, we ask them to make a voluntary donation to charity. There is no mention in the Club Rules regarding charges for guests. I would apprciate an answer so that the Social Secretary can be presented with your interpretation.

A. I confirm that it is possible for the Club to charge an admission fee for Member's guests. Strictly speaking the admission fee must be paid by the introducing Member. I note that currently guests are encouraged to make a voluntary donation to the Club's charity on admission.
The Club is not required to have any particular licence to invite Members' guests to entertainment. Public Entertainment Licences no longer exist. One of the Club's activities under the new Club Premises Certificate (CPC) is the provision of entertainment.
The payment of such an introductory fee is subject to VAT unless it is introduced as a voluntary donation. In reality, the only way the Club will receive any significant income from this source is if the payment is made as mandatory requirement.

 

Minutes

Q. A member is questioning the refusal of the Committee to allow him to read the minutes of the meeting. Our AGM is this Sunday and certain members appear to want to propose that the Club pass a ruling at the AGM to allow members to read the minutes of all and any meetings. There are suggestions that the Club become a Friendly Society.

A. Thank you for your query. I confirm that Committee Meetings are confidential and Members do not have a right to inspect minutes of such meetings. May I suggest that any Member who is desperate to read Committee Minutes to consider standing for election to Office. I confirm that Clubs registered as "Friendly Societies" are obliged under that particular Act to make minutes available. In practice, I am aware, that such Clubs end up recording virtually no information in their minutes. I must also advise you that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) will no longer register a Private Members Club under this particular Act. I trust this information is of assistance to you.

 

Suspension

Q. Two members have both been before the committee for a disciplnary hearing and the Committee's decision was that they be suspended until January 2011 and then asked to reapply for membership. I consulted your Club Law & Management book and then informed the committee 12 months was the maxium period of suspension and when the period of suspension was over they could not be denied entry into the club. The Committee decided to expel them but to invite them to re apply for membership in 2011, I wish to confirm this is the correct course of action.

A. You were correct to advise the Committee that the maximum period of suspension premitted under the rules is 12 months. I note the Committee agreed to expel the two Members in question but also agreed that both could reapply for membership in 2011. I confirm that by reference to the Club's Rules an expelled member may not make use of the club premises or be proposed as a candidate of the Committee. Your committee have therefore given consent for these expelled members to reapply for Membership in 2011 in the usual way.

If the members decide to reapply in 2011 then the terms of your rules will apply.

Members will be able to object to their re-election and, as in most clubs' rules, two votes against election at the Committee Meeting held to determine new members will exclude them from being re-elected to membership.

 

Renewal

Q. As we are nearing the end of our year members will be renewing their memberships for the coming year, is there any provision for a member's renewal request to be declined by the Committee at this stage without further proceedings?

A. The question which you have raised is one which comes up from time to time. I think all Clubs have at least one member who Committees would rather not continue to be members. However, it is not possible under the rules of any Club to refuse the renewal of membership subscription since renewal of subscription is a requirement of the rules.

Consequently, refusing to accept a member's subscription on renewal would be tantamount to expulsion without a hearing and without dealing with the cessation of membership in accordance with the rules. If the actions of a club member have been such that they warrant a disciplinary measures, which may result in explusion, then I suggest the Committee deals with such conduct if accordance with the rules. In short, the rules provide the Committee with the authority to expel Members for legitimate reason in accordance with the stated procedure by simply refusing to accept the renewal of a Member's subsciption.

 

Minutes

Q. We have two Trustees at our club and recently the wife of one of the Trustees has been elected onto the Committee. A few members have approached me and asked if this is correct. Can a Trustee have a spouse on the Committee or is this a conflict of interest? I look forward to receiving your advice.

A. There is nothing to prevent members from the same family being elected to serve on a Club's Committee in any capacity. The law and rules regard members as being individual members in their own right.

 

Room Hire

Q. The club has requested that I ask your advice about a Country and Western group who wish to hire our function room every Sunday evening and we are not sure what this would mean regarding our Club Licence. The Country and Western group would be charginf their guests for the entertainment and the only money we would receive would be for the room hire and drinks supplied over the bar. Would this mean we would have to apply for a premises licence as well as our current Club Premises Cerificate to keep within the law? Obviously, the hire would be good for club funds and a number of people attending are already members of the Club Law & Management book that you did not advise having a premises licence although some of the Committee feel that we would be breaking the law if we did not apply for one. I await your response.

A. It would not be possible for the group in question to hire the Club's function room on a weekly basis and for persons attending these events, irrespective of whether they have paid for a ticket or not, to enjoy the Club's bar facilities. As you are aware the Club may only supply alcohol to members and members' guests and IA Ticket holders. The Club may also serve alcohol to persons attending the Club when a Temporary Event Notice is in force. The number of TENs permitted is 12 per annum.

The difficulty the Club has is not room hire, or the fact that non-members may be attending these music events. It is simply that you want to serve them alcohol and they are effectively members of the public.

The only way around this would be to sign in as guests those attendees who are not members. It could be that the group members may also wish to become members, so long as they qualify and are properly elected members. This system would be difficult to police and perhaps even more difficult to explain as a bone fide Club activity since it will be group who will still be the group who will still be operating a commercial activity in selling the tickets.

The easiest way to overcome this might be to agree a fee which the Club will pay the group to perform. The Club can then encourage Members to purchase tickets for themselves and their guests, some of whom might be regular followers of the group. The ticket income will go to the Club in order to offset the cost of hiring the group. The Club will hope to make the difference, and indeed, a profit on bar takings.

Whilst this option may not be the one the Committee had in mind, it may be worth while trying for a couple of weeks, to see if it works. Certainly there will be no problem with the Club's licensing position. I confirm that applying for a Premises License would not be advisable.

 

Ask Them To Join

Q. Several of the local public houses in our area are dismantling their skittle alley to provide extra space for their own catering requirements. Our Management Committee have received a letter from one of the teams affected. The team are requesting the use of our skittle alley by a hire agreement on a regular basis for the forthcoming season. This team is not affliact to the ACC. However, after reading your article in Club Law and Management regarding visting teams, the Management Committee are as yet undecided. Do all the team members have to become members of the Club? Can one person be made a member of the Club and on match nights, the remainder of the team and visting team be signed in? If no member, will the Club have to apply for a TEN?

A. The question which you have raised is not as usual as the Committee may think.

I do understand the attraction of relatively easy increased trade as a result of attracting a sports team from a neighbouring pub or club which can no longer wish to meet.

It is not possible to simply invite this team to the Club in order to enjoy the facilities of the Club on the terms which are required since this would have to involve the application for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). The reason for this is that the team members will not be part of the Club. The downside of course is that a maximum of 12 TEN's can be applied for and frankly to apply for a TEN for a visting sports team would be a waste of this particular concession provided by the Liecensing Act.

In my opinion, it would be perfectly in order to invite members of the sports team to become members of the Club. Any sports team member wishing to join the Club would need to apply in the usual way and, if successful, would be able to use the Club's facilities at any time including of course the evening when the skittle team meets. Any skittle team member who does not wish, for some reason, to become a member of the Club could be admitted as a guest of any of those other members of the team who have become members of the Club.

By reference to the Licensing Act 2003, members' guests may purchase their own drinks. By reference to the Club's Rules members are able to introduce any number of friends as guests.
The only restriction is that the same guest may only be admitted to the Club on a maximum of 2 occasions per month. However, the Club's Rules go on to say that the Committee may give special consent for this maximum to be extended.

Therefore, it would be perfectly in order for the Committee to agree that the terms of the Club's Rules in respect of restricted visits, would not apply to any person admitted to the Club as a guest of the skittles team provided the admission only took place on skittle team activity evenings.

I hope that all or most of the skittle team will wish to join the Club and become involved in all of the Club's activities. The Committee. however, will appreciate that members of the team will need to fit in with the Club since the Club is not in a position to fit in with them. I am sure this final point will be understood and agreed by all concerned.

 

Q. A guest attended our Club today and when asked to sign our guest book refused to complete anymore information than their initial and surname claiming it was illegal under the Data Protection Act to ask for information such as an address. We have always asked for full names and addresses (we accept a simple road name and area entry). We have found this the best way to monitor guest movement and ensure no one is breaking the rules and signing in the same guest too many times per month. Are we at fault and if so, how do other clubs monitor guest activity?

A. The Club is perfectly entitled to request a guest to complete information such as name and address within a guest book. I note that you, in fact, do not require a full address which, again, is perfectly acceptable. The suggestion that to request this information is in breach of the Data Protection Act is nonsense.

If the person in question is introduced to the Club again and refuses to complete the appropriate signing in book, then I suggest that they are not admitted.
The Committee reserves the right to refuse the admission of any guest without having to give a reason. In anticipation of the likely response you will receive, I can also confirm that such refusal of admission does not affect 'Human Rights'.

 

Q. We would like to hold an open day for the Club and charge guests £1 to enter.
Our Licensing Officer has suggested that we would need to obtain a Temporary Events Notice to do so. Could we just admit these guests as temporary members?

A. If the Club would like to hold an open day for prospective members to visit and enjoy the facilities of the Club then a Temporary Events Notice (TEN) should be applied for with your Local Authority. I agree with your Licensing Officer. Under a TEN the Club may admit visitors for up to 72 hours, and could charge a door fee if the Committee considered this was appropriate.

The Club cannot admit visitors on other occasions unless they are bona fide guests of members. The Club cannot sell 'temporary memberships' for £1 per day since this is prohibited under the Licensing Act. The Licensing Act states that there must be a delay of a least 48 hours between application for membership and being admitted and receiving the privileges of membership.

The Committee can, however, charge bona fide guests of the Club for entry to the Club if it is deemed to be appropriate.