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Club Law and Management

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

Questions and Answers


Q. We recently had a Committee Meeting which was abruptly closed by the Chairman whilst the Committee were in the middle of discussing the final item on the agenda. Whilst this item had caused significant debate among the Committee a conclusion was in the process of being reached and the remainder of the Committee considered that a vote should have been taken on this agenda item. Can a Chairman close a Meeting in the middle of a discussion?

A. Whilst the Chairman has the power to conduct the Meeting, he does not have the power to unilaterally close the meeting. The meeting has an agenda which should be adhered to and then the Meeting should be closed. If a matter arises which is not on the agenda and cannot be dealt with in Any Other Business then it should be put on the agenda for the next Committee Meeting. For example, substantive motions should not be dealt with as Any Other Business and should be placed on the agenda for the next Committee Meeting. The Chairman should follow the publicised Agenda for the Committee Meeting and should not close the meeting until the Agenda has been completed. The Chairman should be careful not to close a Committee Meeting against the will of the Committee Members present. In this situation the Chairman should have allowed the proposal in question to go to a vote, particularly when it seems that a large majority of the Committee wanted to vote on this issue. The Chairman is first among equals and must respect the Members of the Committee and conduct meetings accordingly. Whilst Meetings should not be allowed to become disruptive, unilaterally deciding to close a Meeting is rarely the best way of dealing with such a situation.

Q. A Member has asked whether the new style electric cigarettes are legal to be used in the Club. Apparently they have a small cartridge inserted which gives the impression of smoking and are actually been retailed as an aid to give up cigarettes. I am assured there is no nicotine or toxins included in the device.
A. I would suggest that the Committee do not allow such a device to be used. I am not entering into an argument that the device is not a cigarette and is therefore not illegal, my advice is based purely on the fact that the device looks exactly like a cigarette and therefore will either give the wrong impression about the Club and may give rise to complaints being made, or it may indicate to other members or guests that the Club permits smoking and that as a result they light up a real cigarette which could create serious problems for the Club. Some devices of this nature also emit a smell or odour when used.

Q. We are considering hiring a 15 year old to collect glasses in the Club on some of our busier evenings but we have been informed that we cannot lawfully employ someone of his age to work in the Club as it is a ‘bar environment’. Is this true? He will not be involved in working behind the bar or serving drinks.

A.It is not so much the fact that this person is working in a ‘bar environment’ but has more to do with the very strict restrictions on the hours that a person of his age is permitted to work. A person of compulsory school age cannot work between 7.00 pm and 7.00 am on any day and not for more than two hours on a Sunday or any day on which they are required to attend school. In short, this person could not be employed on any day after 7.00 in the evening. They could not work for more than 2 hours on a Sunday and whilst they could work for more than 2 hours on a Saturday this cannot be beyond 7.00 in the evening. You will see from the above that his opportunities for collecting glasses are limited to Saturday and Sunday lunch time and in the latter case not for longer than 2 hours.


Q. The Secretary receives an honorarium which is paid monthly. With the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI) there appears to be a conflict in applying RTI, which requires the precise hours worked, to the honorarium payment which does not recognise hours worked. Can you advise us how we should complete the RTI return to correctly recognise the irregular and voluntary nature of the role for which the honorarium is paid?

 A. There are two major items on the RTI return which need attention when paying an honorarium to a Club Volunteer/ Officer. 1. Number of hours the employee has worked, it is mandatory - This field is based on the hours you expect them to normally work in a week: A – If the employee worked up to 15.99 hrs; B - If the employee worked for 16-29.99 hrs; C - If the employee worked for 30 hrs or more; D– Other, if it is not possible to give the detail. The key is that the guidelines clearly state that if you consider A, B or C are not appropriate then indicate D. 2. Frequency Of Pay (how often the volunteer is rewarded for their assistance): W1 – Weekly; W2 – Fortnightly; W4 - 4 Weekly; M1 - Calendar Monthly; M3 – Quarterly; M6 - Bi-annually; MA – Annually; IO - One-off; IR - Irregular A ‘one-off’ is where someone is employed to do a one-off piece of work, say, for one week or month, and only receives one payment. This differs from the other pay frequencies where an employee remains in your employment although paid on an irregular, quarterly or annual basis. It would appear to me therefore that you will need to choose option D and IO to cover the honorarium payment. I appreciate the recipient of an honorarium is not an employee but there is no alternative option to complete.
Q. A firm called PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) has contacted us and has told us that we require a PPL licence for our music usage. We do not play music and only use the Club’s TV to show sport. Do we require this licence? We already have a PRS (Performing Right Society) licence which we thought covered us for music in the Club.
A. A PPL licence is likely to be required even if the only ‘offending’ item that the Club uses is the television as even the jingles or music played during sporting events and commercials are likely to be copyright protected. The Club could possibly argue that it does not require a license if the televisions are muted whilst they are being used. If the sound on the televisions is used whilst sporting matches are being shown PPL are likely to be successful in their argument that the Club requires a PPL licence. You can probably tell that I am not a fan of PPL and consider that their licence requirement catches out many Clubs which really should not have to pay for such a licence since their music requirements are so limited and are not the sole point of the activity in question (watching football in this example). However, their basis for demanding such a licence payment is supported by UK legislation. Many Clubs are confused regarding the differences between PPL and the PRS since both organisations require businesses to hold licences in order to broadcast music. PRS and PPL are both companies which represent performers and record companies and licence the use of recorded and live music in public performances; however they each cover a different part of the copyright used in recorded music. PPL licences: • The use of recorded music on behalf of the record companies and the performer’s rights. • This covers bought CDs, music played through a television, the radio and playing music on the internet in public. PRS licences: • The use of the actual lyrics and composed music in any public performance of music, on behalf of the song writers, composers and publishers. • This includes using the radio, CDs, and streaming on the internet, music on television and also live music performances.

Q. We have received the following request for inclusion in the Annual General Meeting: “Teams playing in the Conservative Club should contribute towards the food provided by the Club for sports matches.” Can you let us know if we can accept this motion and, if so, do the proposer and seconder need to be present at the Annual General Meeting in order to discuss the motion? Currently the Committee take the view that the sports teams bring in enough trade over the bar to cover the cost of providing light refreshments.

A. I think the Committee could accept this motion as being acceptable for inclusion on the Agenda for the AGM. I think this motion should be accepted on the grounds that it is merely a recommendation to the Committee and provides flexibility in the event that the Club’s Members to express a view that the sports teams should contribute towards some of the food costs. It is important for any elected Committee to have flexibility when dealing with the day to day business of the Club. For example, there be some matches where it would be appropriate for participants to make a contribution to refreshment costs but on other occasions, perhaps special events or finals involving other teams from different Clubs, it would not be so appropriate since the amount of food may be higher but the level of bar income would offset any costs. With this in mind, perhaps you could have word with the Proposer of the motion to explain that it will be included but on the basis of a recommendation for the Committee to implement as they think appropriate in the event of it being approved. I confirm that the actual Proposer and the Seconder of the motion do not have to be present at the meeting but somebody must propose the motion in their absence and it needs to be seconded in order for a discussion and voting to take place.


Q. We are about to put in a CCTV system and would like to know if we have to put up notices advising employees and Members that they may now be filmed when in specific areas of the Club. We do not want to run afoul of any regulations if we need to rely on the CCTV footage in the future.

A. With any Club operating CCTV cameras either inside or outside the premises we would advise that notices are put up to make Members and visitors aware that their movements are being recorded. It is also possible that the Club will need to register it’s CCTV cameras with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and you may wish to contact the ICO to confirm if the Club’s system will require registration. Having said that, for the fee of £35 a year you may wish to register regardless. Technically, registration is required if you are to use the CCTV system to record the movements of a specific person, such as an employee who you consider may be acting inappropriately. If you are not recording the movements of a specific person then registration is not strictly necessary but I am sure you can appreciate that there may well be a time when you will wish to use the CCTV system to record the movements of a specific person and therefore registration would be required.

Q. The Committee cannot agree on how long the nomination sheet for Officers and Committee Members should be posted for. Some Committee Member consider it can only be put up for ten days before being removed whilst others think we should leave it up until the Annual General Meeting in order to encourage nominations and let Members know the current nominations. What is your advice on this situation?
A. The Club’s Rule regarding this point reads as follows: At least three weeks prior to the day appointed for the commencement of the ballot a notice shall be posted on the Club Notice Board by the Secretary, inviting the nomination of candidates for the office of Committee Member or Officer of the Club. The notice shall remain so posted for ten days. Therefore, according to the Club’s Rules, the notice requesting nominations shall be posted for ten days and then removed. The names of all candidates for office in the Club, together with the names of their proposers and seconders, shall then be entered on a nomination sheet which shall be posted on the Club’s Notice Board seven clear days before the day appointed for the commencement of the ballot and shall remain so posted until the result of the ballot has been declared. Therefore, there should ultimately be two Notices placed on the Club’s Notice Board. The first Notice invites nominations and stays posted for ten days and the second notice then lists the persons who have been nominated and this notice remains posted until the ballot has been declared. These notices first provide an opportunity to nominate Members for election and then allow all Members to be aware of who has been nominated for election so they can consider how to cast their votes.