Legal Questions

Q. What exactly is an ex officio member of a club committee. Are they able to vote?

A. Roughly translated, ex officio means by virtue of the office held. So, ex officio members of any body are entitled to their membership not because they were elected but,rather, because of the position that they hold. Typically, club rules may provide that the chairman, secretary and, perhaps, treasurer shall be ex officio members of the management committee. When one thinks about it, it would be unfortunate if the principal officers of a club were not entitled to membership of the management committee. Without such a provision, it would be possible for an officer to be elected to office but not onto the management committee. Such an outcome would be illogical but members cannot always be relied upon to avoid illogical decisions. As members of the committee they are, of course. entitled to vote.

Q. I am the steward of a members’ club. My wife and I live rent free in a flat on club premises. My wages are fixed, having regard to the rent free benefit. The parties to the contract of employment are me and the club. Some members think that my wife ought to work in the club as well since she enjoys the use of the flat. Can she be required to do such work?
A. No she can’t! Her occupation of the flat is on the basis that she is your wife. Unless the contract that you have with the club specifies that the flat must be occupied by you alone, it would be expected that she live there with you. As far as work is concerned, the contract of employment is, as you say, between you and the club. Your wife has no contractual obligation with the club and so need not do any work.

Q. In an attempt to increase membership it is being proposed that persons be admitted to membership of our club without the usual period of 48 hours between nomination and admission to membership. When I expressed the view that this would go against the provisions of the licensing laws I was told by the more progressive members of the committee that we are in the 21st century not the 19th. Comments please.
A. Well, I am all in favour of a progressive approach as long as it does not undermine the status of the club. I believe that what is being proposed will do that. Under existing legislation, qualification for registration is dependent upon a club being able to show that its rules comply with it, particularly in relation to elections to membership to comply with the 1996 Clubs Order.

Q. At a recent extraordinary meeting of our club the chairman took a vote on a proposition that had not been included in the published agenda. I say that no vote should have been taken as the membership had not had proper notice of the item. Am I correct?
A. Yes. I believe that you are. All members of any members club are entitled to notice of any proposal that will affect the running of it. This is because they are entitled to vote on the issue. In the case that you have referred to members were, in effect, disenfranchised because they were not aware that there was to be discussion on the proposal and could not therefore, decide whether they wished to attend the meeting and record a vote. The decision to take a vote on the proposal was in fact, in clear breach of your club rules. They provide that the requisition for any extraordinary meeting of members must state the object of the meeting and members must then receive notice of it and the reasons for it.

Q. Why is it that we must now keep our employers’ liability certificates for 40 years, this does seem like an extremely long time?
A. In recent years employers’ liability insurance has been plagued with historical problems. The number of long-term illness claims has increased as a direct consequence of work undertaken between 30 and 50 years ago. In the 1940s and 1950s companies were unaware of the dangers of asbestos, repetitive stress injury (RSI) and long term deafness, health and safety regulations were not applied and many work-related illnesses are coming to light that could not have been predicted. The regulation for employers to store their employers’ liability insurance certificates for 40 years, which show the insurer’s name, has only been enforced recently due to the countless claims now arising. Prior to this, insurers spent millions of pounds investigating who was responsible. Insurer costs have therefore increased and so have insurance premiums. You can keep electronic copies if this is more convenient than paper.