20 Aug Who chairs body corporate meetings?
The appointment of a body corporate chairperson rests with the trustees elected at each annual general meeting (AGM). This appointment is not made by the members in the scheme but by the elected trustees at the first trustee meeting following the AGM.
The chairperson has many duties that they need to fulfil, least of which is to chair and run the meetings of the body corporate in an orderly manner.
When do the members have a say in who chairs general meetings?
Although the members in a scheme do not appoint the chairperson of the body corporate, they do have a say when it comes to who chairs the general meetings of the scheme. There are three instances where the members can determine who will chair and run a general meeting.
If the members feel strongly about the incumbent chairperson not chairing the meeting, they can demand that an alternative person be appointed to run the meeting. The second instance is when the elected chairman is not present at the meeting 15 minutes after it is supposed to commence. The members will then need to elect another person to act as the chairperson for the meeting. The final reason includes any situation leading up to a general meeting of a body corporate that may force the elected chairperson to decline to chair the meeting of the scheme. The chairperson may also be unable to chair the meeting due to illness.
In all three instances the members need to vote on who should replace the chairperson for the meeting. All decisions at general meetings (except special general meetings) are decided by a majority vote which is calculated on the participation quota value of the members present in person or by proxy.
If a majority vote determines that another person must chair the meeting, the chairperson of the body corporate may not continue as chairman for the duration of that meeting.
Authority of an alternative chairperson
Every general meeting of a body corporate must have a chairperson presiding over it. The election of the chairperson, in the instances mentioned above, must therefore take place prior to the commencement of the meeting.
All the duties and authority bestowed on the chairperson of the scheme now becomes that of the alternatively elected chairperson.
The chairperson must ensure that the meeting runs orderly and correctly in terms of procedure. They may not influence any views of the members on any business being discussed at the meeting.
They must further ensure and allow all members entitled to be present to speak undisturbed and must act fairly and courteously towards the members at the meeting.
Should the acting chairperson want to participate in a discussion or debate regarding any business tabled at the meeting, they must surrender the chair to an alternative person for the duration of the debate or discussion.
Once they have concluded their discussion or debate concerning the point of business, they may return as chairman of the meeting.
It is generally accepted that the chairperson elected by the trustees will always chair the general meetings of the body corporate. Chairpersons regularly fall out of favour with members for various reasons, especially when members think that the chairperson is not acting in the best interest of the scheme.
The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act allows for members to decide who they want to have as the chairperson for their meetings. It is important that such decisions are taken without any personal bias and in the interest of the scheme.