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Owner and Proxy attends AGM in person
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kezza111
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27/06/2017 - 8:07 am
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Hi,

Ive been advised that one of our difficult owners is going to be present at our upcoming AGM along with her Proxy ( sister lawyer).

She's insisting that she can speak at our AGM along with her Proxy and does not require permission to speak by the other owners present.

Last year we gave her permission to speak but they both highjacked the meeting.

The owner refuses to represent herself.

She wants to discuss and usually argue the motions but have her proxy vote on her behalf. 

As the chair I only want one of them to speak on her behalf of her Lot.

Is she correct?

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BONNIE L
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27/06/2017 - 9:51 am
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In my experience, only the lot owner is entitled to vote.  If the un-entitled dominates, chair could clearly and firmly point out the entitlement factor. As chair, you're in a box seat to move on with the agenda items.  Unless of course the un-entitled has, in your opinion, something constructive for the building in view.  After all, the discussion around a strata table is supposed to be reasonable. Good luck!

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JimmyT
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27/06/2017 - 10:09 am
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I am not aware of any hard and fast rule about proxies speaking at general meetings but you could resolve this by adopting a set of standing orders that clarifies this.

As we have discussed elsewhere on this forum, having an agreed set of rules for your meetings - both committee and AGMs - makes it a lot easier for the chair to maintain order, identify disruptive elements and hopefully curb their intrusions.

I'm going to post rules I recommend below but these are in no way prescriptive and you may wish to add change or remove any of them to suit your circumstances.

Then you could make the adoption of the standing orders your first item of business on the agenda then run the meeting accordingly.

If this person has been disruptive in the past I'm sure other owners will support your efforts to bring some order to proceedings.  Anyway, have a look at the proposal below and see if it would do the trick for you (and change it if it wouldn't).

Standing Orders for General Meetings of Strata Scheme (No.....)

  1. The meeting will be governed by the terms of Schedule 1 of the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and relevant regulations.*
  2. The meeting must be chaired by the elected chairperson unless they are absent or unable to do so, in which case those in attendance and entitled to vote must elect a chair for the duration of that meeting.*
  3. Owners who wish to be represented by a proxy at the meeting must nominate that proxy in writing before the start of the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter.
  4. In the interest of fair hearing for all owners, owners represented by a nominated proxy may not also speak on issues if they have nominated a proxy to speak on their behalf.  Only one speaker is allowed per lot and the chair may rule additional speakers out of order.
  5. The chair should make it clear to non-owner proxies that they are bound by the Standing Orders.
  6. The committee will consider the items on the agenda in the order in which they appear unless a majority of the committee agrees to change the order at the meeting.
  7. The Chairperson will allow each owner or their nominated proxy to speak only once on a topic until everyone who wants to speak has had a chance to do so. The same restriction will apply after each time an attendee speaks.
  8. Attendees and members who interrupt, talk out of turn or talk over other members may be warned verbally that their behaviour is not acceptable.
  9. If the interruptions and disruptive behaviour is repeated despite a warning, the chairman may declare that they will ‘name’ the miscreant in the minutes of the meeting.
  10. The meeting will be called to a close after the final item on the agenda has been discussed and voted upon.
  11. There is no “any other business”. Any items not on the agenda can only be discussed informally after the end of the meeting and no vote should be taken or recorded.*

*Items 1, 2 and 11 are part of NSW strata laws or regulations.

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JimmyT
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27/06/2017 - 10:20 am
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BONNIE L said
In my experience, only the lot owner is entitled to vote. 

The proxy can vote unless the lot owner votes in person, thereby negating the proxy. This can be done on an item by item basis.

The situation described above, where the lot owner attends but her proxy does the voting is frankly bizarre.  Presumably the owner thinks she needs to give her sister a proxy to allow her to speak.

There is nothing wrong with people taking proxies along to speak on their behalf, if they are nervous about speaking in public, or to advise them on points of strata law (for instance).

But taking along a non-owner to add their voice to the owner's and dominate meetings is pretty poor form - and I think it could be fixed by having the Owners Corp adopt standing orders like those I suggested above.

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kezza111
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28/06/2017 - 7:33 am
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Thanks Jimmy for your valuable input.

Im going to be making the adoption of your list of Standing Orders as the first item of business on the agenda.

You are spot with your comment in regards to the owner & non owner from one Lot's ongoing attempt to dominate, bully, intimidate, harass etc.

Its a very bizzare situation that we are in, one that I have never experience before.

They have upped the ante since Ive taken over the management of the Strata Plan, as Ive refused to be bullied and intimidated by this one owner and the non owner.

It gives me greater confidence in tackling this unique situation we are in.

Your advice has been invaluable to me, so thank you very much!

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kezza111
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27/07/2017 - 4:51 pm
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An update on this bizzare situation I now find myself in.

I have been advised that the owner who is bringing along her Proxy to speak on her behalf now wants to bring along another "support" person (friend) to the meeting.

This situation is getting out of hand and is becoming a bit of a circus.

Clearly she is trying to dominate the upcoming meeting.

We will be adopting the Standing Orders as our first item of business.

However do we need to tolerate/accept that this extra person attending the meeting who has no connection to the owners/strata/residents other than as a friend to the owner in question.

Surely as the Chair I am able to stop this situation before the meeting date and tell this owner that this is unacceptable and only herself and/or her Proxy can attend the AGM.

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Sir Humphrey
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28/07/2017 - 10:08 am
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I think that as chair you could rule that you will allow one person (the sister-proxy) to speak on behalf of the owner. I think you could also rule that you will permit a third person to attend and observe but not speak. 

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JimmyT
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28/07/2017 - 10:23 am
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I agree.  I would be pointing out that this is a courtesy, as the third person has no right to be at the meeting, being neither an owner, tenant or proxy, and as such, permission can be withdrawn at any time.

I would add that the meeting may be adjourned while the person is removed if they fail to remain silent - and that includes, interruptions, interjections and "stage whispers". 

I've been at a meeting where a woman shouted abuse at the chair and demanded that the committee be sacked, loudly egging on any other voices of dissent and creating a very nasty and unnecessarily combative atmosphere.  

It turned out later that she had already sold her apartment and only came to the meeting with the sole intention of causing trouble.

Stay strong.

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scotlandx
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28/07/2017 - 10:26 am
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Going back to basics, the meeting is a meeting of the owners, so what right does the third person have to attend?  The third person does not have any right to attend (they are neither an owner nor a proxy for an owner), therefore the Chair could exclude them from the meeting.

That is what I would do.

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Lady Penelope
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28/07/2017 - 11:15 am
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I understand that anyone can attend an AGM unless a by-law states otherwise. Those who are not owners would need to provide their name to the Chairperson and/or Secretary prior to the meeting to enable their attendance to be recorded in the Minutes. Only an Owner or their authorised proxy is permitted to Vote.

The Chairperson should lay down at the beginning of the Meeting the rules about who is permitted to speak and ask questions . One of these rules could be, as suggested by Sir H, that only the proxy be permitted to speak on behalf of an owner but not a third person.

A useful link is here: https://www.lookupstrata.com.au/nsw-owners-corporation-proxies-participation-general-meetings/

There are various books that may assist the Chairperson in difficult Meetings as the Act is not overly helpful in this area: 

Meeting Procedure Made Easy By David Julian Price. Published by Cascade Publishing.

Guide for Meetings and Organisations By N.E. Renton. Published by the Law Book Company

Joske’s Law and Procedure at Meetings in Australia By Eilis S Magner. Published by The Law Book Company

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scotlandx
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28/07/2017 - 8:58 pm
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Lady Penelope it is not correct that anyone can attend a meeting, the article you have linked states the opposite.  The Act specifically states that tenants have the right to attend meetings, but not to vote and can only speak if the owners resolve to allow it.  It is a meeting of owners, you can exclude anyone else as they have no standing.  If the opposite applied anyone could attend.

By-laws don't govern meetings.

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Lady Penelope
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28/07/2017 - 10:00 pm
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Thanks Scotlandx for pointing out the error - Apologies for the confusion.  I meant 'Motion' rather than 'by-law'.

The linked article states:

"I was asked several times whether a lot owner could have someone else attend on their behalf (the answer is yes – provided they complete a proxy form naming that person as their proxy), and whether they could have a support person attend (the answer is yes – unless the owners corporation passes a motion to restrict the meeting to lot owners, their proxies, and those who are otherwise entitled to vote (such as mortgagees or covenant chargees or company nominees) only."

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JimmyT
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29/07/2017 - 8:01 am
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Scottie's right (as usual) but there is a problem in excluding people because they are not entitled to be there - and that is that you have to check everyone who is.

In a small scheme, that wouldn't be too much of a problem but to avoid accusations of targetting one owner, you probably should have a registration system at the entrance to the meeting room

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twosailram
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01/08/2017 - 9:13 am
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I would further clarify two of Jimmy T's draft Standing Orders.

I would modify No. 4 to accommodate couples who are joint owners by altering the second sentence to read "Only one 'non-owner' speaker ...

I would also modify No. 7 to include a time limit per speaker 'turn' but allow as it does unlimited turns after all others have had one turn to speak, if they wish. We brought that in to our SC meetings as a standing rule to counter an all knowing pedant who would speak forever on anything he thought he knew, often incorrectly.

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Sir Humphrey
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01/08/2017 - 9:41 am
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I would be a bit careful about too strictly enforcing one turn each.

I have often found at meetings that the pattern of speaking on a motion is that I talked for a bit about a proposal representing the EC which is putting that proposal or most recently as a non-EC member putting a couple of personal proposals. Then someone asks a question or makes a statement that needs a response. Often it is along the lines of 'Have you considered if X happens?' or 'This proposal could do Y'. Usually there is an answer along the lines of 'Yes, we thought of that. That concern has been addressed by ...' or 'We don't think that will be a problem because...'. Sometimes discussion of a particular concern will go back and forth a couple of times between me and the person raising the concern before we move on to the next question/comment. 

By the end, even though I really do try to not dominate discussion, I will often have spoken approximately once for each of everyone else's turns. What is the alternative? To not respond to reasonable concerns for which there is a reasonable response?

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twosailram
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01/08/2017 - 11:02 am
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As at any meeting, a good Chair has 1st and last say, and it is up to him/her to enforce strict adherence or not to rules. If things are flowing well, no-one dominating, each speaker courteous and making a sensible contribution to the matter being addressed, all should be happy without strict rule adherence. This includes the Chair ensuring each who wants to speak has a turn. Each and every situation must be judged on its own merits and handled appropriately. Unless something has been dealt with previously and a majority decision taken that does not warrant revisiting, I find it is often better to leave my speaking to last then summarise a motion for voting that can be my wording, not the pedant's. That's what then makes it into the minutes. 

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JimmyT
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01/08/2017 - 11:36 am
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Sir Humphrey said
I would be a bit careful about too strictly enforcing one turn each.

I think the rule on "one turn each until everyone who wants to speak has had a say" is there for when one person or a noisy minority try to dominate and it gives you a valid basis on which to shut them up.

The exchange of information you described may violate the strict reading of the rule but I doubt if it would offend anyone.

I see the Standing Orders as more of a safety net than a strict batting order for speakers.  Many committees get along fine without one ... until the inevitable loudmouth comes along and takes advantage of everyone else's good nature.

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JimmyT
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01/08/2017 - 11:37 am
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twosailram said
I find it is often better to leave my speaking to last then summarise a motion for voting that can be my wording, not the pedant's. That's what then makes it into the minutes.   

At the risk of being labelled a "pedant" if the motion isn't on the agenda, you shouldn't be formulating it at a meeting.

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scotlandx
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01/08/2017 - 11:48 am
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Jimmy's right - the meeting can't approve a resolution unless it has been included as a proposed resolution on the notice of meeting.  Anything raised at the meeting as a proposed resolution where notice has not been given would have to be ruled as out of order by the Chair.

Any proposed resolution must be included in the notice of meeting sent to the owners.

You can amend a proposed resolution, but only if it doesn't change the substance of the resolution, and that can be challenged, in which case it has to be considered again.

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twosailram
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01/08/2017 - 1:37 pm
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Sorry Jimmy, I should have clarified to context. The summary as I saw i was in the context of an SC meeting. The 'rule' however can be usefully applied to both AGM and SC meetings

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