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Club Law and Management

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

Questions and Answers

Q. Could you tell me whether there has been a resolution to the dispute regarding the Skillette Roulette machine as yet? We have been offered such machines in the past and we are aware that on-going action is being taken against the supplier of the machines.

A. Yes, the Gambling Commission has confirmed that the person supplying them, Kevin Holleran, has pleaded guilty to their supply and to “conniving in cheating in gambling”. I would take this opportunity to remind Committees that a Club can only have up to a maximum of three gaming machines of Category B3A, B4, C or D and only one of these machines can be a B3A machine. There are no restrictions on genuine skill with prizes machines, such as quiz machines. We recommend that Clubs deal with the Association’s approved machine supplier, Dransfields, who will ensure that you are only supplied with legal equipment.

 

Q. We had an incident inside the Club and as a result the Police were called. After taking statements from the parties involved the Police have decided to take no action. Several Members of the Committee feel that the Member involved should face a disciplinary hearing; can we take disciplinary action against a Member if the Police have already decided that they will not prosecute the Member?

A. The Committee are not bound by the decision of the Police not to prosecute. The Police base a decision to prosecute or not to prosecute on a number of factors and a decision not to prosecute does not necessarily mean that the person is not guilty of the allegation. The Committee can hold a disciplinary meeting and review the allegations and make their own decision regarding what, if any, action is required under the terms of the Club’s Rules.

 

Q. We have recently had an Inter Affiliation Ticket Holder who lives locally start to use the Club on an almost daily basis. The Committee consider that the use of the IA ticket in this manner is excessive and that this person should apply for Membership of the Club if he wishes to continue to use the facilities of the Club. Do you have an opinion on this?

A. I confirm that the admission of an IA ticket holder is a courtesy given by each Club which can be withdrawn at any time. It would therefore be perfectly in order for you to ask this particular person if he would like to apply for membership of the Club in view of his very frequent use. I hope that the person will accept that the IA ticket scheme is not designed to enable a Member of one Club to visit another on a daily basis and that the correct way in which to use your Club to this extent would be to apply for membership. If, however, this person, for whatever reason, decides not to apply for membership of the Club then it would be in order for the Club to either place restrictions on the admission of this person or to request that he no longer uses the Club at all. If the Committee do need to refuse the admission of this IA ticket holder, which I hope is not the case, then I think it would be sensible for you to have a quick work with the Secretary of this person’s home Club in order to explain that your Club’s decision is in no way a reflection of any particular policy towards their Club and that other Members continue to be welcome to visit.

 

Q. The Club runs multiple bingo sessions each week which the total amount being staked going over £2000 in some weeks. Would the Committee be acting appropriately to obtain a Bingo Operating License to make sure that the Club is fully compliant with the Gambling Act and will it in any way change the constitution of the Club?

A. If the total amount being staked each week on bingo is exceeding the maximum allowable amount of £2000 per week then we would encourage the Committee to obtain such a licence. To reach this turnover on bingo is however unusual for most Clubs. There is no reason that the purchase of such a license will change the constitution of the Club or affect the Club’s Club Premises Certificate. The important point is that the Club will still only admit Members, their guests and IA Ticket Holders; holding a Bingo Operating Licence does not alter this.

Q. Could you let us know if it is normal for a Club’s Steward to attend a Committee Meeting? We are in the process of recruiting a new Steward and wish to clarify our operating procedures.

A.The question you raise is really a policy decision which should be taken by a Club’s Committee and, as such, there is no absolute right or wrong answer. There will be some Clubs where the Steward never, or very rarely, attends a Committee Meeting and there will be other Clubs where the Steward attends a specific portion of a Committee Meeting to give an update on his activities and answer any questions which are raised and will then leave before the Committee resumes the Meeting and discusses the rest of the agenda without the Steward present. Clearly, in the above cases, there will be times when it is inappropriate for the Steward to remain in the Committee Meeting when specific subjects are discussed and during these discussions the Steward should leave the Committee Meeting. Ultimately though, it is for the Committee to determine if the Steward should attend the Committee Meeting and, if so, if he should attend for the entire Meeting or just a specific part of the Meeting. The Steward cannot attend a Committee Meeting without the consent of the Committee and when requested to leave a Meeting the Steward must immediately exit.

 

Q. A Committee Member has submitted a written complaint about another Committee Member and we are unsure of how it should be handled. Should either Committee Member be in attendance when the complaint is read out at the next Committee Meeting and what happens if the Committee decides to summon the Committee Member in question to a disciplinary meeting?

 A. The Committee should treat this situation as it would treat any situation which involves a complaint being made about a Club Member. The fact that it is a complaint made by a Committee Member about another Committee Member should not affect the Committee’s approach apart from the fact that these two individuals should play no role in any discussion or subsequent disciplinary action. The Committee should review the complaint at the next Committee Meeting and both Committee Members involved should be asked to leave the Meeting at this point. If the Committee are of the opinion that the allegations contained within the complaint justify a disciplinary meeting being called then they should inform the Committee Member in question that a disciplinary will be scheduled to consider the allegations made against them. The Committee can also instruct this member to withdraw from the facilities of membership until they appear 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 the Committee decides to withdraw the facilities of membership from the Member until the disciplinary meeting has taken place then this means that they will be unable to enter the Club until the disciplinary meeting has been heard. The Committee cannot expel or suspend a Member from the Club without first inviting them to a Committee meeting and detailing the specific allegations being made against them. A suspension or permanent expulsion can only take place once a disciplinary meeting has been held. If the Committee decides to hold a disciplinary meeting then once all the evidence has been heard the Committee can either suspend or expel the Committee Member in question or decide to take no further action. The Committee are not empowered to remove this Member from the Committee, only the Members can remove an elected Committee Member.
 

Q. We have an employee who is currently on sick leave. However, an allegation relating to their employment has come to light and the Committee wish to know if it is possible to convene a disciplinary meeting to deal with the allegation. Can we summon an employee to a disciplinary whilst they are on sick leave or must we wait until they return from their sick leave?

 A. It does not automatically follow that an employee who has been signed off work by his or her GP cannot be disciplined or dismissed. In this situation, as the conduct of the employee is so serious as to suspect that the employee is guilty of theft, it is likely that the Committee will be judged to have acted reasonably if a disciplinary hearing is requested and, if the allegations are proven, dismissal follows. In general, if the offence would not normally deserve dismissal then it may be best to wait for the employee to return to work. These are the steps the Committee should take: 1. Set out in writing the employee’s alleged “misconduct” 2. Send this statement to the employee, inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss the matter. 3. If they refuse, seek a medical opinion on whether or not the employee is fit enough to attend a disciplinary hearing even though they may be unfit to carry out their normal job function. If the Committee wishes to speak to the employee’s doctor then they should gain the employee’s consent prior to contacting the doctor. There are also alternatives that can be considered offering an employee who cannot attend a disciplinary hearing at work such as holding the hearing at a neutral venue or the employees home. If this is not possible and the employee cannot attend any formal meeting then the Committee can invite the employee to make a written response to the allegations or offer the employee to nominate a representative to attend in their place. 4. Hold the disciplinary meeting. 5. After the meeting inform the employee of the decision and of his or her right of appeal and confirm the decision in writing. The employee’s alleged offence should clearly warrant such action, and the timing and location of meetings must be reasonable. It could be argued that deliberately arranging a disciplinary meeting at a time when the employee is ill, and therefore arguably unable to attend, would be unreasonable, and that the employer should have waited until the employee has recovered before convening the disciplinary meeting. If the Committee do consider that the meeting cannot be held until the employee has returned to work then you can set out the grounds of the complaint in writing to the employee and advise the employee that the disciplinary hearing will be held upon their return to work.