Everyone (probably) knows that there are a maximum of seven voting committee positions for a committee formed under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCM Act). These are the chairperson, the secretary, the treasurer and then four ‘ordinary’ committee positions.
The question that sometimes arises is what each of these people are responsible for.
It is quite interesting (and perhaps that’s just the lawyer in us) in terms of what most committees fall back to as a default position as against what the BCCM Act actually prescribes.
Those default positions are not necessarily the legislative requirements.
The first distinction to draw is between executive committee members (chairperson, secretary and treasurer) and ordinary members. One person can hold all three executive roles, but one person cannot hold all ordinary roles.
Voting at committee level remains one per person – not one per position (i.e. if one person held all three executive positions, they still only get one vote at committee level – not three)
These are ‘ordinary’ positions in every sense of the word. They have no special rights other than to have a vote at committee level, which counts the same as any other committee member’s vote.
Their power, in a sense, is in numbers. If there were four ordinary members who voted in concert on every motion, it would not matter how the executive members voted. The outcome would be 4-3 (at a minimum) every time.
Ordinary members can call committee meetings in their own right provided that there are enough of them to provide a quorum.
We still hear this word and think of pirates, but maybe that’s just harking back to primary school and learning to read. Or perhaps it is because they have started filming the next Pirates of the Caribbean on the Gold Coast and Johnny Depp seems to be everywhere.
You could assume that the treasurer would be automatically responsible for the finance role for the body corporate (i.e. the approver of payments, controller of cheques, balancing of books etc).
The reality is different.
The treasurer has no real automatic legislative right to be the manager of the body corporate’s finances. In the BCCM Act their position is a title only.
That means it is up to each body corporate to decide how it is going to manage its finances. Of course, most bodies corporate make finance management largely the role of the engaged strata manager. While good governance dictates that at least one member of the committee would approve each payment, who that is, and the process for the payment approval itself, remains the domain of the committee.
Despite there being no particular special rights with this role, the treasurer may appoint a proxy for committee meetings only with the approval of the committee. Given the above, we don’t understand the rationale for that, but it is in the BCCM Act!
This person would be considered the administrative manager of the body corporate. Before strata managers and resident managers were removed from the right to have voting positions on the committee in the 2003 amendments to the BCCM Act, the secretarial position was usually filled by a representative of the engaged strata manager.
Practice dictates that is still effectively the case. It would be next to impossible for any committee member to fully understand the rules and regulations that come with the role of secretary. Thank goodness most strata managers do, although we still see some pretty shoddy practice at times.
Amongst other things, the secretary is the nominal point of contact for the service of documents on the body corporate. The formal part of the role also includes:
- writing to owners about nominating for committee and lodging motions for the AGM;
- receiving those motions and nominations for committee (and acknowledging them);
- forwarding ballot papers for the AGM for contested elections;
- receiving resignations from the committee;
- calling committee meetings;
- receiving notifications for owners who want to attend committee meetings;
- sending copies of minutes to owners;
- preparation of voting papers for any general meeting;
- receiving explanatory notes to go with motions (capped at 300 words);
- holding documents from the developer handed over at a first EGM;
- manager of owner’s nominees and proxies;
- receiver of voting papers (other than on secret ballots);
- holder of the body corporate roll and related documents for inspection at general meeting; and
- in the absence of other direction, one of the automatically appointed signatories for the body corporate under seal (the other being the chairperson).
All of the above is normally part of the services that a competent strata manager will provide.
There is the same restriction on appointing a proxy at committee level for the secretary as there is for the treasurer.
The chairperson will be the public face for the body corporate. They will be front and centre at general and committee meetings.
The chairperson does have a few parallel positions to the secretary under the BCCM Act as well as some other special rights. These include:
- receiving resignations from the committee;
- acting as secretary in the secretary’s absence to call a committee meeting;
- chairing all committee and general meetings – basically being responsible for the running them and the procedural issues that come with them;
- receiver of counts on ballots and declaring results at general meetings;
- dealing with motions from the floor and committee nominations at general meetings;
- ruling motions out of order at general meetings – and explaining why that was done; and
- needing to be there at adjourned general meetings for there to be a quorum – unless a properly authorised strata manager is there.
Where the BCCM Act sets out a position’s responsibilities or rights then those cannot be removed. Where the BCCM Act is not prescriptive it is up to the committee to decide who will do what.
So as simple examples:
- the committee can decide who authorises payments to contractors as it is not the exclusive domain of the treasurer;
- the committee cannot remove the right of an elected chairperson to chair a meeting as that is their right by statute.
As always, if you need help on understanding the roles and responsibilities of any committee position, let us know.