Voting outside committee meetings
By Frank Higginson07 Aug 2008
Committee members can vote on issues and pass motions without holding a physical committee meeting. The regulation module which applies to the scheme determines the applicable rules.
Such votes are usually referred to as ‘flying minutes’ or a ‘VOC’ (a vote outside committee). Some general rules for such votes are:
- The motion must usually be in writing and given to all committee members.
- The motion must be passed by a simple majority.
- In an emergency, notice of the motion must be given to as many committee members as it is practicable to contact. Such notice may be provided verbally or by another appropriate form of communication, such as email.
- As soon as possible after motion has been given to the committee, it must be provided to lot owners (Standard Module only).
- Once the vote is decided, the results must be given to owners.
It is important that the committee confirms any motions that have been voted on outside of a committee meeting at its next committee meeting, to ensure the accuracy of the motion.
Some committees opt to use flying minutes to pass most of their motions. However, our view is that the legislature intended that a committee should preferably hold formal committee meetings, and only use flying minutes and the like in limited circumstances.
This is because the rules under which committees operate are intended to bring transparency and accountability to their operations. Flying minutes do not necessarily rule out compliance with these requirements, but there is little doubt that it means the actions of the committee become less accountable and transparent.
When a committee becomes more opaque, there is an increased risk of criticism from owners. Owners have rights to attend every committee meeting. It is not good for a committee to duck hard issues by using flying minutes to make contentious decisions. Decisions that can cause division are generally best made at a formal committee meeting to remove the ability for others to criticise the reasoning process.
Accordingly the committee should take care to reserve the use of flying minutes for issues where there is a genuine emergency or urgency or where there is little need for deliberation and a simple yes/no vote will suffice. They can also be used where it is impossible or impractical to convene a formal committee meeting. The written notice should clearly state that a voting is being sought outside a committee meeting and indicate how and by when votes are required. Moreover, there is no reason why the committee cannot agree to conduct formal meetings by teleconference.
Flying minutes are a useful tool in the day to day management of a body corporate. There remains a need though to make sure they are not being used to manufacture outcomes and avoid scrutiny on difficult decisions.