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Code of Conduct
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Ziggy
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12/07/2018 - 11:38 am
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I have just read an interesting piece in the SMH concerning the conduct of the state’s councillors. NCAT has ruled that they cannot make allegations or criticise fellow councillors on Facebook or any other social media.

The question I’d like answered is whether Strata Committee members have a Code of Conduct? Can they write to owners saying they speaking from a personal view and not as a member of the SC to criticise, belittle or fabricate stories concerning other owners or facts?

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Jimmy-T
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12/07/2018 - 6:01 pm
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I think this is the story to which you are referring and this is the case referred to. This has very little to do with the running of strata schemes, for reasons I’ve outlined below.

To answer your question …

… whether Strata Committee members have a Code of Conduct? Can they write to owners saying they speaking from a personal view and not as a member of the SC to criticise, belittle or fabricate stories concerning other owners or facts?

The answer is, another question – do they?  Does your strata scheme have a code of conduct enshrined in your by-laws? I’m guessing not, because very few strata schemes do.  A quick search of this website will unearth considerable discussion on the issue, including whether you need one and if it is at all enforceable.

If not, and if you are in NSW, you would fall back on the very woolly Section 37 (below), which is qualified by section 260 (also below). In short, they say that as long as strata committee members are acting in good faith – i.e. they believe that what they say or do is correct –  then they can’t be held personally liable.

So, in terms of “belittling” or “fabricating stories” these are two separate issues. 

The first, “belittling” is pretty subjective.  If an owner has been doing something wrong and someone mentions that in a meeting and it turns up in minutes, then it could be belittling.  However, the committee member is arguably acting in good faith, in that they are reporting something that is related to the good management of your building.

On the other hand, fabricating stories is clearly and objectively not acting in good faith and that person could be subject to some disciplinary or legal action (although it should be noted that defamation actions in court are pretty much for rich people to extract money out of other rich people or bully poor people).

So, if there was someone on your committee who was defaming you, claiming it was in a personal capacity but repeating allegations made in committee, NCAT may well consider that they are still acting as a committee member and rule accordingly.

With that in mind, you could apply to NCAT, for example, to have them removed from the committee for abusing their position. Of course, you’d first have to apply for mediation at Fair Trading. 

Now, there’s absolutely no guarantee you’d get satisfaction, but at the very least that would give you an opportunity to air your grievances in public and possibly attract an apology and a correction of the records without needing to employ teams of lawyers to argue your case. 

37 Duty of members of strata committee
It is the duty of each member of a strata committee of an owners corporation to carry out his or her functions for the benefit, so far as practicable, of the owners corporation and with due care and diligence.  

260 Personal liability
(1) A matter or thing done or omitted to be done by any of the following persons, or a person acting under the direction of any of those persons, does not, if the matter or thing was done or omitted to be done in good faith for the purpose of executing functions as such a person under this or any other Act, subject any of the following persons or person so acting personally to any action, liability, claim or demand:
(a) an officer of an owners corporation,
(b) a member of a strata committee.
(2) Any such liability of an officer of an owners corporation or a member of a strata committee attaches instead to the owners corporation.

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Ziggy
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15/07/2018 - 8:37 pm
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Thanks Jimmy for all this info. I do not believe the SC is acting in good faith (neither our Strata Manager). They are doing their best to malign a number of the owners who oppose them. We are seeking transparency, honesty and that the SC is carrying out their functions with due care and diligence.

If they don’t want something done that the owners have approved, they just stall. We then have to constantly request they do do something and then we get accused of complaining and writing too many emails, which the SM charges us for to read (per person not per email).

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