If you are involved in community living, whether strata, company title or community association, lot owner or resident, you are, in one way or another, connected to or involved with meetings.

General meetings, and the way in which they are run, can make or break communities. They deal with day to day business, as well as specific items, including the raising of special levies for important projects, or the registration of new by-laws.

The way in which general meetings are conducted can be indicators of:-
• Cooperation, or lack of it amongst the executive committee/board of directors;
• Discipline and organisation;
• Whether or not, and how well, the interests of the community are dealt with.

Convening a general meeting

Legislation stipulates strict rules in relation to the content and issue of meeting notices. Two legislative instruments are relevant, depending on your type of community. We set out below, direct links to the relevant legislation:-

For strata schemes: Schedule 2 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996. 

For community, precinct or neighbourhood associations: Schedule 5 of the Community Land Management Act 1989 (for the First Annual General Meeting or Schedule 6 of the Community Land Management Act 1989 (for all other general meetings)

For company title buildings, the company’s Constitution is your first port of call. Consult the Constitution (or the “Memorandum and Articles of Association”) and it will set out the processes and procedures for convening a meeting of the members.

The content of a meeting notice/agenda

The legislation referred to above details the types of items required to be included in a meeting notice or agenda.

When preparing a notice, you should also consider the order of business. Perhaps some items should come before others, as some people may only be attending the meeting for one item in particular – for example, whether the Executive Committee has arranged for a lawyer to attend and address the meeting about a particular item. You don’t want that item at the end of a long meeting: why should the Owners Corporation pay the lawyer to be there for 2 hours when the item could have been completed within 15 minutes?

Service of meeting notices

The legislation referred to above sets out strict time limits for the service of meeting notices. Notices must be served a certain number of days before the meeting (depending on what type of meeting is being held).

Err on the side of caution when serving notices. Exclude the day the notice is sent out, and the day of the meeting. Keep in mind public holidays and weekends, and avoid them when calculating the number of days.
It is not unusual for the validity of a meeting to be challenged before it has even begun, on the grounds that sufficient notice of the meeting has not been given.

Conducting the meeting

What happens when you are chairing the meeting and someone stands up and says you are wrong, or challenges your position or decision?

Always remember: “you are innocent until proven guilty”. Don’t take immediate offence to a challenge. An objection or a call for a point of order, is not necessarily a personal attack. Never miss an opportunity to learn something new.

Ask the basis upon which the query or objection is grounded in law. For example, if someone suggests what you are doing is illegal or outside the power of the Owners Corporation or board, ask them why they take that position. Ask the person to give precise reasons. If they cannot do so, and having listened carefully, you are sure of your ground, then proceed.

Disputes as to conduct of meetings often result in lengthy and expensive litigation. There is nothing wrong with adjourning a meeting (whether for 10 minutes or two weeks) to explore the proper procedure or seek advice. One needs to be careful of allowing temperament, ego, pressure or anger to overpower considered judgment.

No executive committee member / director should attend a meeting without a copy of the relevant legislation or the constitution. Bound copies of legislation can be ordered from here.

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