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16MLEW

Meetings - legal essentials

NZ $30.00
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Mark von Dadelszen 2015  
Mark von Dadelszen
Partner, Bannister & von Dadelszen
Hastings
 

Author: Mark von Dadelszen
Published: 17 November 2015
Pages: 23

Introduction

Like it or not, meetings are integral to everyday life. If you think about it, we have meetings all the time, even if we do not characterise what is happening as a ―meeting‖, such as, when a discussion takes place about what to do today, where to go on holiday, what car to buy, etc. Meetings can be called to discuss such issues, but what we most commonly describe as ―meetings‖ tend to be more formal, and this Webinar covers the legal essentials for formal meetings.

1.2 Within (at least) the English-speaking world, the way formal meetings are run follows closely similar conventions. Those conventions have evolved over centuries as society became more complex. In New Zealand we follow the ―Westminster‖ procedure for meetings1 – generally, as established by Parliament in London. The essence of those parliamentary rules is followed in meetings of companies, bodies corporate, local authorities, and community organisations, and the reported court decisions often contain statements that confirm that such conventions have legal force.2 Long-standing customary procedural rules may be modified, in priority, by relevant Acts of Parliament, an organisation's constitutional rules or any standing orders it may adopt, procedural motions passed by a meeting, and the well-established customs of an organisation.

1.3 While a cynic might suggest that having a meeting is an alternative to actually doing some work, the reality is that formal meetings that are called, run and minuted as required by law are absolutely fundamental to the way businesses, government organisations, and community entities make decisions. What the cynic‘s suggestion highlights is that meetings can be, and often are, unproductive, frustrating, and boring. I do not accept that as a fact of life! If meetings are properly called, run and recorded they should be productive and effective.

1.4 While I am also strongly of the view that the success of meetings lies in all participants knowing the basic rules, a successful chairperson who is confident in knowing the rules should be able to preside over most meetings in a relatively relaxed way.

1.5 The legal requirements for meetings are all too often not known or understood and are frequently ignored, and the failure to call a meeting or run it as required by law can cause much wastage of time, momentum, energy and money. In addition, such failures may make decisions supposedly made at such meetings legally invalid.

1.6 The emphasis of this Webinar is on the ―legal essentials‖ for valid meetings, but it also contains some guidance that, if followed, may improve the general standard of meetings.

This Webinar is, therefore, being presented in the hope that practitioners:
  • Can better contribute to the ―good health‖ of meetings, and
  • Will be better able to advise companies, bodies corporate, societies, trusts, charities and government agencies about meeting procedures, and
  • When serving on or chairing committees or boards, will be able to help improve the standard of their meetings.

This booklet is not a full exposition on meeting law – that may be found in published texts.
(Continuted further in booklet...)
___________________

1 The Americans and South Africans follow a variation based on Robert‘s Rules of Order. The oldest text on meetings I have seen is A Manual of the Law with regard to Public Meetings and Political Societies, published in 1833. While the book is a quaint commentary on early 19th century meetings, it offers not the slightest practical guidance on how to run a meeting.
2 For example, the passage in Wilkie v Kiely (1914) 33 NZLR 816 at 818, cited in paragraph 2.6(b) below.

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Management of Law Firms

Publication Date: 09-Nov-2015

Author: Jarrod Coburn

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