Conservative Weekly Draw Banner Image

< Back to Magazine Articles


CLUB LAW AND MANAGEMENT

VAT Registration Scam

A number of Clubs have, once again, received a letter entitled ‘Publication of companies and VAT Registration Numbers in the UK Corporate Portal 2015’ which suggests that
‘as part of the changes to the EU economic package, obligating all companies to provide their VAT Registration Number on various documents since 2010, we as a publisher of leading internet portals are required to update our database’. The Company in question is a German company called TVV Tele Verzeichnis Verlag GmbH and its website address is: http://www.uk-corporate-portal.com/ which is mentioned in the letter.

The letter which Clubs have received looks very official and includes the Clubs name and address and a form to complete and return to the Company. However, if the form is completed and returned then the Club agrees, via the small print, to pay £797 annually which the company states is an advertisement charge. We strongly advise that this form is not completed, is not returned and if received is simply filed in the waste paper basket. If Clubs are in any doubt over correspondence which has been received and the legitimacy of the correspondence then please contact the ACC’s offices before taking any action. If any Clubs has already completed and returned this form then please do not pay any invoices which may arrive and contact the ACC for further advice. Please note, whilst threats of legal action may be made by this company in the event of non-payment we would continue to advise that no payment is made and the matter should be referred to your local Trading Standards Office in addition to ourselves.

Alison Campbell, from Trading Standards, said in 2013 when an almost identical mailshot appeared: “We are concerned that local businesses may consider the letter to be an official communication.

“But if they sign and return the form to confirm their details are correct they could end up tied in to the high costs of an entry in this publication.

“Several businesses are already listed on the website as basic entries, so we anticipate that all those businesses will receive the letter.

“Businesses should be aware that there is no obligation on them to provide any information to the company and entries do not have to appear on the company’s website or portal.”

ACC Room Hire Agreement Launched

Following requests from Clubs, the ACC has produced a standard room hire agreement which is suitable for use by Clubs. The agreement is available from the ACC at no cost. The room hire agreement is ready to be completed at the time a booking and includes space for a deposit to be taken to secure the room is applicable. We hope that this document will be of assistance to Clubs.

In addition, the ACC also provides at no cost a Catering Franchise Pack. This Contract pack can be used by Clubs which have a franchisee who uses the Club’s facilities to prepare and serve food within the Club. The Franchisee Contract permits the Committee to decide if the franchisee shall pay a set fee per month to the Club for use of the Club’s facilities, shall pay to the Club a percentage of the profits from the sale of food or that a combination of both methods of remuneration shall be utilised. The Catering Franchise Contract Pack can be provided electronically or as a hard copy.

We also have extensive other documentation available free of charge. Examples include general health and safety documentation, risk assessment forms and practical advice on completing a Club risk assessment, first aid information and employment advice and assistance including employment guides and template letters which Clubs can use when writing to
employees.

To obtain any of the above documents please email Charles@toryclubs.co.uk or phone 0207 222 0843.

Outdoor Events – Is the Club properly prepared?

Club Insure, the ACC Recommended Insurance Brokers, offer some advice to Clubs who are intending to hold outdoor events: An event organiser has a duty to ensure that any premises, open spaces, means of access and egress, and any plant, equipment and substances are safe and without risk to the health of any employees,
volunteers or visitors.

Clubs should ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and act
upon its findings to eliminate and mitigate risk to your employees and volunteers and the members of the public who attend. The ACC can assist Clubs which wish to carry out a Risk Assessment but are not sure how. Please contact us for assistance.

A risk assessment should also be undertaken to determine the extent of First Aid provision required, this will be based on the numbers attending and the nature of the activities. Provision may range from a simple First Aid box to a number of trained First Aiders. An emergency plan must also be in place in the event of someone having to be taken to hospital or needing to receive emergency treatment.

Insurance Considerations

If you are planning any event which includes activities of a hazardous nature, then you must contact your insurance provider as soon as possible because liability insurance may not be in place unless specifically agreed by your insurer.

Hazardous events might include, but not be limited to: Archery, Assault course, Bouncy castles Bungee jumping, Clay pigeon shooting and Firework Displays & Bonfires.

If outside contractors are employed to provide attractions, the event organiser should check that each attraction provider holds adequate public liability insurance with an indemnity.

If you allow people who are not employed by you to run stalls, displays, rides, sideshows etc., you should ensure that they have their own public liability insurance to cover both property damage and accident or injury to members of the public.

Club Insure can be contacted on 0844 488 9204.

ACC Service Awards Update

Both the ACC Badge of Honour and Distinguished Service Award (with five year bar) continue to be popular awards for Clubs to present to Officers and Committee Members for service. The ACC Badge of Honour and Distinguished Service Award will now no longer be supplied to Clubs engraved. Increasingly Clubs have asked to undertake their own engraving arrangements. Most high streets now have engravers who can quickly and inexpensively provide an engraving service.

Premier League Football

Some Clubs have reported being approached by firms offering European football or football delivered over the internet. Often it is claimed that these systems are completely legal because they are able to block copyrighted material such as logos and anthems or that they operate on a time delay system. The ACC advises all Clubs to avoid the use of such systems since the risk of prosecution is real and it is far from certain that the Company which has provided the Club the equipment will be able or willing to defend the Club if the Premier League concludes that the Club, by using such equipment, has breached its copyright.

Clubs should remember that if they are convicted for the criminal offence of dishonestly showing Premier League matches they are now subject to an unlimited fine (previously £5,000 per offence). The new law takes effect against offences committed from 12th March 2015 under Section 297(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. This change to the law demonstrates how seriously operators should take the issue of illegally showing the Premier League in their premises.

The Premier League are committed to visiting thousands of licenced venues, as well as investigating suppliers and is visiting more than 700 pubs and clubs each week in towns and cities across the UK.

Questions & Answers

Q We have received an agenda item for the Club’s AGM which states that sporting teams playing in the Club should contribute towards the cost of the food which is typically provided free of charge at these events. It does not state how much of a contribution should be made which may cause a difficulty should the Members approve the motion. The Committee have previously discussed this issue but we have taken the view that the darts, crib and snooker teams bring in enough trade over the bar to cover this expense of providing the food. Should we allow this motion?

A The Committee should accept this motion as being acceptable for inclusion on the Agenda for the AGM. As you have said the wording is not particularly good but the intention of the motion is clear. The motion should therefore be accepted on the grounds that it is merely a recommendation to the Committee rather than a binding obligation. 

It is important for any elected Committee to have flexibility when dealing with the day to day business of the Club. For example, there may 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.

When an agenda item for the AGM is proposed, does the proposer and seconder have to be present at the meeting in order for the agenda item to be discussed and voted upon?

A 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 have been sent a letter by a company claiming that they can help our Club with our financial affairs. Am I right to be wary?

Our member clubs are reporting an increase in debt management companies (DCOs) deliberately targeting them claiming they can help the clubs with financial matters. Some companies claim that they work in partnership with clubs, but the reality is very different.
            Most DCOs exist to make a profit and are not there for “free” help and advice. We know of clubs that have been ruined by unscrupulous DCOs. The DCOs start by taking a mortgage over the Club’s assets (usually the Clubhouse) in return for putting money into the Club and then charge high monthly fees to cover both the debt to the DCOs and the management fee for their services.
             Because they have a mortgage over the Club’s property, if the Club cannot keep up with the high monthly payments to the DCOs, the DCOs can sell the Club against the wishes of the members. We have seen this happen to a number of member clubs and they regret involving DCOs.
              If your Club is in financial difficulty, please contact the ACC in the first instance so we can talk through the options available to you and to see what support we can provide.

We have recently co-opted a Club Member to fill a vacancy which occurred on the Committee. A question has been raised over whether this co-opted Committee Member should have voting rights in Committee Meetings?

A person elected to the Committee through the Casual Vacancy mechanism would normally have voting rights in Committee Meetings. It would seem strange for a Committee to be able to elect Members to fill vacancies but not allow the co-opted Members to vote in Committee Meetings. You would end up having a person who is privy to all the confidential Committee discussions and contributes to Committee discussions but not able to cast a vote. If a co-opted Member was not able to vote then there would seem be little reason to co-opt them in the first place. Therefore, I see no reason why a person co-opted to fill a Casual Vacancy cannot be granted voting rights and I can confirm that this is standard practice in other Clubs.

The Committee considers that it has reason to invite a Member to attend a disciplinary meeting to answer allegations which have been made against them. Can you confirm the correct procedure that we should follow? We are conscious of getting the disciplinary procedure correct.

AThis is a common question and it is important to follow the correct disciplinary procedure. Failure to follow the correct procedure could result in any disciplinary decision made becoming invalid.
            The Committee cannot expel or suspend a member from the Club without first inviting them to a Committee meeting. A suspension or permanent expulsion can only take place once a disciplinary meeting has been held. The Committee can also only suspend a Member for a maximum of twelve months.
            If the Committee are of the opinion that this individuals behaviour has either broken specific Club Rules/Bye-Laws or could be judged to be prejudicial to the Conservative cause or the interests of the Club then they can summon this member to appear before the Committee. The Committee should inform them of the allegations that have been made against when asking them to attend the disciplinary meeting.
            The Committee can also instruct this member to withdraw from the facilities of membership until he appears before the disciplinary meeting. It is normal that once the withdrawal takes place that a disciplinary meeting is held within two months and that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting must be given to the member, in accordance with the Club’s Rules. If this is how the Committee wishes to proceed you should write to the member and inform them that due to their conduct he has been requested to appear in front of the Committee. You should also include the precise details of the complaint and alleged conduct which has forced the Committee to summon the Member to them.
            The Committee should then hold the disciplinary meeting and, after reviewing any points this Member has to make in their defence, the Committee should decide if their conduct requires a suspension of membership up to one year in length, permanent expulsion from the Club or no action taken against
them. 
            If the Committee decides to withdraw the facilities of membership from the Member until the Committee has heard the disciplinary meeting then this means that they will be unable to enter the Club until the disciplinary meeting has been heard.