Clubs, constitutions, committees and legal obligations? :-)

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25 May
1:55pm, 25 May 2022
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HappyG(rrr)
What fun, I hear you cry? Or not?!

There must be Fetchies who are on club committees (running clubs, or others), who could possibly help me here?

In a non-running (but still called a sport, interestingly) club, we have had a spat and feathers are ruffled.

A person who is a member at another club, and a top representative in the sport in Scotland, applied to join our club. His application was denied. His dad is a member of our club and massively involved in lots of voluntary work at our club. Needless to say, his dad was appalled, has himself now left the club, taken away a load of equipment (which are his, that's not the problem), and everyone is very unhappy.

However, matter isn't over. Someone, presumably the aggrieve parties or their representatives have then complained about our club's conduct to our UK governing body. Our chairperson, the main accused, has been suspended from our governing body.

What obligations do a private club have in terms of publishing their decisions about things like membership applications? In addition to legal (if any) obligations, what would be good practice? Minutes available for members to see or for all (public) to see? Are vote results part of that? And is the names of those who voted and which way part of that?

I'm trying to recommend to them that if they had a good reason to deny someone membership, then a simple statement about that should be made publicly, so that everyone understands. Of course, if they're not comfortable publishing it, it seems to me it's because they don't think it stands up to public scrutiny, in which case their objection should be withdrawn and the decision to deny membership should be overturned and apology be issued.

Am I being too simplistic, naïve even? Any recommendations? Or is it all just a clusterf* and everyone comes out of it badly and there will always be wrangling and sniping and bad blood in hobbyist clubs, and just shrug?!

Top tips welcomed! :-) G
25 May
2:03pm, 25 May 2022
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Ultracat
Does your club have a written constitution? Our running club has one and any amends to it has to be voted on by the whole membership.

There maybe a good reason said person was denied membership.
25 May
2:09pm, 25 May 2022
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larkim
If you've got a governing body, they'd normally have some requirements for how well (or not!) a local body is constituted. Invariably though whatever governing documents are in place for the local body, they never manage to deal with the specifics of the matter in hand!

In broad terms, any "legal" challenge would come through something like "judicial review" (expensive!) where an administrative body (in this case, a club) can have its decisions reviewed by the court and then some remedy (if necessary) put in place; often forcing the body to "do things properly" etc.

If the local body does have a governing document, then that might specify things about proceedings at meetings / who has authority to do what etc. Then things like minutes are obviously "good to have" and would provide decent evidence of why decisions were made (and potentially whether they were made correctly; e.g. a quorate number of members involved, etc etc)

I suppose for practical purposes the issue might be if the national GB withdrew it's support for the local organisation, and whether that would impact the members (e.g in athletics terms, if a club was somehow derecognised and the members then fell outside of UKA the members might find it impossible to compete in some events like County champs etc etc).

Transparency and openness are to be highly recommended though. If the local constitution says something like "A majority of members voting at a quorate meeting may choose to accept or refuse a membership application at their discretion", and if a quorate meeting did happen, then there is no obligation for the reason to be disclosed; but it would always help to explain in public why the meeting felt that way. If it was something highly perjorative (e.g. son in this case was Muslim and the "committee" didn't want Muslims in their group) then they might fall foul of some legislation too of course. Are you able to, discretely, let us know what the reason for the refusal of membership was (most clubs would welcome someone who was a "top representative" especially if they were a relative of someone already in the club, so it does seem odd!)
25 May
3:29pm, 25 May 2022
42,400 posts
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HappyG(rrr)
Thanks Ultracat and larks.

There is a written constitution, but I can't find it. The governing body recommends but doesn't stipulate how each club's constitution is written but recommends the template from "National Federation of Community Organisations" - all just normal, sensible stuff. Keep minutes etc.

I don't have the details of why the person was denied membership. I will get a verbal update this weekend. I'd like to keep out of it, but they desperately need some guidance not to be total idiots and really spoil some of the inter-club and inter-member relationships.

Oh well. Thanks. Any other insights gratefully received. :-) G
25 May
3:38pm, 25 May 2022
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Llamadance
Is it possible that publishing the reason for denying the candidate membership would be a breach of data protection?
25 May
3:47pm, 25 May 2022
42,401 posts
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HappyG(rrr)
Good point S - I really don't think so. My suspicion was that it was a personal grudge. 3 blokes didn't like the other bloke. He was better at them at the sport, for a start. How dare he?! There was a disagreement about a timing or measurement of a result at one point. I can't believe it could be just that. But then... actually, I could!

I think it's as petty as that and now it's got relatively formal, they just don't want to back down. A back down and apology would do a lot to sort things. But I think they're just embarrassed and stroppy. We'll see.

Good suggestions all, thanks. :-) G
25 May
3:52pm, 25 May 2022
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larkim
I spotted the reference to the NCFO in the governing body documentation (assuming I've made a decent educated guess about what that body is). Pretty out of date reference I think now, but nonetheless that document is a decent starting point for what should go on.

All amateur bodies end up with some bits of politics playing around; sadly it's usually just about personalities in the end, no matter what the documents say.

Good luck with drawing the poison out of the situation!
25 May
3:54pm, 25 May 2022
42,402 posts
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HappyG(rrr)
Top digging larks - took me 3 documents before I could find it through their website! Yes, BRCA. Counts as a sport, honest. It's actually affiliated to Motorsport UK eventually! :-) G
um
27 May
7:45pm, 27 May 2022
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um
As others have said, it all goes back to the constition, and the governing body rules. Worth a read of all.

I'd be very surprised if the reason for non-acceptance could, or should be published. Unless it's already in the public awareness and incontrovertible.

If it's a spat between a couple of people who don't get on ... then it may dwell - like the case I read in the paper of 2 neighbours arguing over a few inches and both ending up with mega £000s of legal costs.

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About This Thread

Maintained by HappyG(rrr)
What fun, I hear you cry? Or not?!

There must be Fetchies who are on club committees (running clubs, or others), who could possibly help me here?

In a non-running (but still called a sport, interestingly) club, we have had a spat and feathers are ruffled.

A person who is a member at another club, and a top representative in the sport in Scotland, applied to join our club. His application was denied. His dad is a member of our club and massively involved in lots of voluntary work at our ...

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