Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 41

Thread: BVF Constitution

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default BVF Constitution

    I am posting to explain why I found it necessary to resign from the BVF committee.

    At the recent EGM on 24th March, a proposal for a new constitution was passed. However this process was invalid under the old constitution because the membership were not given 21 days’ notice of the new constitution,(significant alterations were made from the document from that had been sent to members). I explained this to the committee suggesting that we should either put the new constitution to a second EGM or wait until the AGM. The sole reply from the chair was ‘I do not accept your argument’, with no explanation or justification of this position.

    Just before our committee meeting on the 15th April the committee received an email from a lawyer stating that new constitution was illegal and therefore any AGM based on it would be invalid. Any election of a committee by this AGM would therefore also be invalid and there was a huge potential for chaos. At the subsequent committee meeting the chair stated that she had been given advice from a retired solicitor who said that the decision of the EGM was legal. This person was not named. The committee decided to go ahead on the basis that the new constitution was valid.

    I took legal advice and was warned that the committee decision was wrong, illegal and could open committee members to disciplinary action from British fencing, and the possibility of a high court injunction. The cost of this would fall on committee members personally as they were acting illegally and recklessly.
    I then wrote to the committee saying that unless I was provided with information on the actual brief to this unnamed solicitor, the advice given, and that it demonstrated that this would give a robust defence of the committee’s action, then I would have no choice but to resign. No information on the alleged legal advice was forthcoming and my resignation was accepted.

    I find the whole situation extraordinary and an example of poor governance. The remedy of delaying and putting the new constitution to an AGM is so simple and risk free.

    I realise that pursuing and publicising this at this stage seem drastic and somewhat disloyal, and for that I apologise. But my reasons for doing so are completely sincere. Because of the serious consequences of this situation I resigned to protect myself but I also have two other concerns.

    Firstly- The error of accepting the revised constitution without obeying the previous constitution was brought up by two people at the EGM and ignored. I have been extremely worried about this ever since and done everything in my power to remedy it. We will have an illegal constitution, this cannot be right. There is still time to do make things right. It isn't difficult but it needs action now.

    Secondly, and possibly more importantly, I have had sight of a letter sent to everyone on the Committee threatening action, and which if they continue to ignore could lead to them being held personally financially liable for any subsequent legal action. The costs are considerable. This is is not fair on people who are doing this as unpaid volunteers and receiving the wrong advice and direction. I really don't know any other way to protect them.

    If you have got this far?-Apologies for the length of this post but I believe a vital issue is at stake.

  2. #2
    ***** Legend hokers's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Woking/Guildford
    Posts
    3,767

    Default

    Yaay, more veterans governance drama..

    Wary of opening another can of works here, but:
    What's the difference in the constitutions that might affect anyone seriously enough to take legal action against them? Why should anyone care about this?

  3. #3
    Member jacquesdor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire
    Posts
    157

    Default

    I am sorry to hear this Graham. I would like to add to a request to highlight the different areas between the 2 consitutions that have led to this state of affairs. I know I can go and read them for myself so if that is your answer I accept it.

  4. #4
    ***** Legend hokers's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Woking/Guildford
    Posts
    3,767

    Default

    Well this is the new one:
    http://www.veterans-fencing.co.uk/do...ution.pdf?vn=2

    And this I think is the old one, from Dec 2016
    https://web.archive.org/web/20161213...ution.pdf?vn=2

    Removal of the Life president clause? What's the argument here?

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hokers View Post
    Removal of the Life president clause? What's the argument here?
    There are some very substantial changes, such as electronic voting. I am not in principle against the new constitution, with some reservations on the extra power given to the chair.

    However what I am against is the committee operating outside the constitution and breaking its regulations. This is a recipe for anarchy and totally unecessary.

  6. #6

    Default

    If it's purely the maladministration you are concerned with then you can take them to court, get the injunction. The document is pretty clear, unless they circulated the changes 21 days in advance then the meeting should not have been able to consider and approve the new constitution.

    I think you would have a good chance of being successful and it is likely that the committee would make a U-turn on this and put the changes to the membership again to avoid the legal costs you rack up.

    Unless there are changes to the constitution which will have a real and material impact on the membership, my guess is that you will be acting alone in your action (doesn't make a difference legally).

    I can't see anything in the constitution which would make it mandatory for the committee to consider giving your position on the board back though.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FencingMove View Post
    If it's purely the maladministration you are concerned with then you can take them to court, get the injunction. The document is pretty clear, unless they circulated the changes 21 days in advance then the meeting should not have been able to consider and approve the new constitution.

    I think you would have a good chance of being successful and it is likely that the committee would make a U-turn on this and put the changes to the membership again to avoid the legal costs you rack up.

    Unless there are changes to the constitution which will have a real and material impact on the membership, my guess is that you will be acting alone in your action (doesn't make a difference legally).

    I can't see anything in the constitution which would make it mandatory for the committee to consider giving your position on the board back though.
    Please note with the above post that I don't think this is a proportional response given the relatively minor changes to the constitution but given that there is clearly a hostile relationship between you and the rest of the committee I am of the mind that this is probably the only way you will achieve your aim.

    In summary, I don't think it's the right thing to do but if you care that much about it it's probably the only way to get them to change their mind.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FencingMove View Post
    If it's purely the maladministration you are concerned with then you can take them to court, get the injunction. The document is pretty clear, unless they circulated the changes 21 days in advance then the meeting should not have been able to consider and approve the new constitution.

    I think you would have a good chance of being successful and it is likely that the committee would make a U-turn on this and put the changes to the membership again to avoid the legal costs you rack up.
    .
    Let me make it entirely clear. I have no intention of persuing a case through the courts. My reason for resigning was that if a third party took the matter to court, I as a committee member could be held personally liable for costs as the committee was acting in a negligent and illegal manner. I am concerned that other members of the committee do not appreciate the risks that they are taking.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by graham paul View Post
    Let me make it entirely clear. I have no intention of persuing a case through the courts. My reason for resigning was that if a third party took the matter to court, I as a committee member could be held personally liable for costs as the committee was acting in a negligent and illegal manner. I am concerned that other members of the committee do not appreciate the risks that they are taking.
    Can you give an example of a third party who would be sufficiently effected by these changes that they would take BVF to court over it?

    To my mind that is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to draw the attention of the wider fencing community to the maladministration going on at the top of BVF.

    This is not something you should be ashamed of. If you think there is something wrong you should be encouraged to say something. Will people care about this enough to do something? Probably not.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FencingMove View Post
    Can you give an example of a third party who would be sufficiently effected by these changes that they would take BVF to court over it?
    .
    The nightmare senario is that we proceed with the AGM based on the 'New constitution'. At the AGM a new committee is elected by electronic voting. At sometime later a member has an issue with the committee, perhaps on a selection issue where feeling can get very heated. (Lawyers were consulted last season over a selection dispute). This member then applies to the court to declare the 'New Constitution' null and void because the vote at the EGM was illegal. This would make the AGM illegal, as it was conducted under a false set of rules, hence the committee had not been legally appointed. Chaos then reigns.
    My legal advice was that this could happen if the committee go ahead with the 'New constitution'.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ChrisHeaps's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lytham
    Posts
    605

    Default

    So when's the AGM? More than 21 days or so away?

    Just issue the new constitution to the members again, this time it'll be legal. It can be voted in at the AGM along with the new committee. Sorted, no need for any drama.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisHeaps View Post
    So when's the AGM? More than 21 days or so away?

    Just issue the new constitution to the members again, this time it'll be legal. It can be voted in at the AGM along with the new committee. Sorted, no need for any drama.
    Chris I could not agree more.
    This was the text of an email I sent to Gillian on 27th March-
    We were not allowed to make any substantive change to the proposed constitution from that which was sent to members. Clearly the document that was approved by the meeting differed in a substantive way from that sent out to the members. Reducing the numbers required to call an EGM from 20 to 10 is just one example of a substantive change. This makes the decision on Saturday invalid and open to challenge at a later date. The chaos this could cause is not worth risking. We must proceed in a proper manner. We can either call another EGM or put the ammended document to the AGM for ratification
    The reply I received was- 'I do not accept your argument'



  13. #13
    Senior Member Jon Willis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    London
    Posts
    669

    Default Experience matters

    If any any members of the BVF committee (past or present) are available to referee at the BYCs next weekend they would be most welcome.

    We still need Foil refs on Saturday & Monday, Epee on Monday and sabre all 3 days.

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hokers View Post
    Yaay, more veterans governance drama..

    Wary of opening another can of works here, but:
    What's the difference in the constitutions that might affect anyone seriously enough to take legal action against them? Why should anyone care about this?
    I care. Either the EGM was conducted correctly or it wasn’t. Ask yourself: was that which was approved at the EGM the same in form and substance as that of which notice was given to the members? If the answer is “no”, as in this instance it has to be, then what followed is, as a matter of law, invalid. Graham is correct as well as those who stood up at the EGM and voiced their concerns. The EGM was mishandled and the Committee should be honest enough with the members to hold its hand up; the members will be sympathetic. The only proper way now to salvage the situation is to get the members’ approval to the revised new Constitution at the AGM. The Committee has set its face against the advice they have received; but I believe there are those on the Committee who accept the legal argument but are constrained by the Committee Protocol from speaking out; they should individually examine their consciences and decide whether the honourable course would be to resign, as Graham has done.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff Silverman View Post
    I care. .
    Geoff, I care as well, we need proper governance.
    You mention the committee protocol, which raises an interesting point. The fourth paragraph of the protocol states-
    If a committee member considers that an urgent matter has arisen they shall discuss this matter with the BVF Chairman only. If the Chairman agrees that the matter is urgent, and must be dealt with before the next formal committee meeting, the Chairman will email the committee will details of the matter to be discussed and prescribe deadlines and any other procedural aspects.
    The Chairman may, at any point prior to calling for a vote, declare that the discussion is adjourned until the next committee meeting, at which the matter will be included in the Agenda.


    This clause means that, in principle, the members of the committee cannot debate and reach a decision on an issue unless the chair agrees. I find the situation extraordinary. This clause was actually brought up by the chair at the 16th April meeting, where she reminded members that all email and telephone discussion should go through, or be approved, by the chair.
    This principle was extended to speaking to members outside the committee. I was admonished for speaking to the chair of selectors on the effect of the weather on the age group participation. We were told that this should have been a discussion that only Gillian could have.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by graham paul View Post
    Geoff, I care as well, we need proper governance.
    You mention the committee protocol, which raises an interesting point. The fourth paragraph of the protocol states-
    If a committee member considers that an urgent matter has arisen they shall discuss this matter with the BVF Chairman only. If the Chairman agrees that the matter is urgent, and must be dealt with before the next formal committee meeting, the Chairman will email the committee will details of the matter to be discussed and prescribe deadlines and any other procedural aspects.
    The Chairman may, at any point prior to calling for a vote, declare that the discussion is adjourned until the next committee meeting, at which the matter will be included in the Agenda.
    I suggested at the EGM that there should be a clause saying that a committee meeting could be called by three members of the committee without the ChairmanÂ’s consent. This seemed perfectly rational to me, as a situation might arise when a Chairman wishes to avoid calling a meeting for whatever reason, but the Committee feels it necessary. (I am not implying anything about the current committee, I was just imagining future possibilities). However, nobody else seemed to support me.

    As I am a Parish Ckerk, and I know a thing or two about Committees, I am surprised that such a large amount of responsibility is given to the Chairman. In Council affairs, the ChairmanÂ’s role is to run the meeting (and one or two other minor responsibilities) and it is the Council (or Committee) as a whole that has collective responsibility.

    To return to the point of this thread, I feel it is very important that things are done properly, legally and according to the constitution. It would be very easy to annul the decision and put the revised constitution before the membership at the AGM. I canÂ’t imagine what the reasons are for not doing so.

    Lucy Wright (I am almost never ‘first2fifteen’ I don’t know why I chose that moniker!)

  17. #17
    ***** Legend hokers's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Woking/Guildford
    Posts
    3,767

    Default

    To clarify when I said "Why should anyone care about this?" I was meaning care enough to take BVF to court and be able to demonstrate loss of earnings etc.
    Graham has described a scenario since that would do it, personal distress about non-selection. I guess some of the thinking about not following the rules might have been related to not seeing anyone being concerned about them being followed to the letter to care, but I can see the point now. Sounds like this needs fixing to me.

  18. #18
    Chris Howser cesh_fencing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    East Northamptonshire - Yarwell
    Posts
    5,323

    Default

    All of this is very one sided as BVF will generally not officially comment on the Forum.

    I would expect that the BVF committee will have sought confirmation that they have acted as required.

    Graham has been very good at raising his concerns and we are now all aware of his view on this subject.

    Little to discuss until clarification can be sought from BVF directly I would say, else everything is supposition that there is an issue here.
    Oundle, Peterborough & Stamford Fencing

  19. #19
    ***** Legend hokers's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Woking/Guildford
    Posts
    3,767

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    Little to discuss until clarification can be sought from BVF directly I would say, else everything is supposition that there is an issue here.
    Well not really, no.

    The membership were sent a version on 12th Feb. All veterans on the list have got a copy of this.
    There was an EGM on 28th March to vote on a new constitution.
    The new constitution that was published is demonstrably different to the one sent to the members. (for example this section is added "Any offensive behaviour, including (without limitation) racist, sexist, or inflammatory remarks or actions that breach current BF and BVF rules, protocols and/or policies, may be referred by the Committee Chairman for action under that code. Any BVF member who is not a BF member may be referred to an internal Disciplinary Committee as detailed by the Committee Chairman. "

    The OLD constitution requires 21 days notice.
    No alteration(s) or addition(s) may be made to the Constitution except at an Annual or Extraordinary General Meeting of the Association. Such alteration(s) or addition(s) must be approved by two thirds of the members present and voting. Notice of such alteration(s) or addition(s) must be made in writing and received by the Honorary Secretary at least twenty-eight days before the meeting at which the resolution is to be brought forward. At least twenty-one days' notice of such a meeting must be given by the Honorary Secretary to all voting members and must include notice of the alteration(s) or addition(s) proposed.
    I don't think the facts are in dispute here, it's just whether anyone is going to do anything about it, like resign from the board, convene another EGM/AGM or take BVF to court for some reason.

  20. #20
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    280

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by first2fifteen View Post
    I suggested at the EGM that there should be a clause saying that a committee meeting could be called by three members of the committee without the ChairmanÂ’s consent. This seemed perfectly rational to me, as a situation might arise when a Chairman wishes to avoid calling a meeting for whatever reason, but the Committee feels it necessary. (I am not implying anything about the current committee, I was just imagining future possibilities). However, nobody else seemed to support me.
    Lucy perhaps you missed the reception I received when I suggested that the committee should appoint the Electoral officer and the appointment should not just be made by the chairman?
    Quote Originally Posted by first2fifteen View Post
    As I am a Parish Ckerk, and I know a thing or two about Committees, I am surprised that such a large amount of responsibility is given to the Chairman. In Council affairs, the ChairmanÂ’s role is to run the meeting (and one or two other minor responsibilities) and it is the Council (or Committee) as a whole that has collective responsibility.
    Could not agree more

    Quote Originally Posted by first2fifteen View Post
    To return to the point of this thread, I feel it is very important that things are done properly, legally and according to the constitution. It would be very easy to annul the decision and put the revised constitution before the membership at the AGM. I canÂ’t imagine what the reasons are for not doing so.
    Gillian probably gave the answer at the EGM. She considers the appointment of the committee by the members who attend the AGM unfair and wants to give all the members a vote. I have some sympathy for widening electorate for the election of the committee. I can see pros and cons of the new system. It has the advantage of giving everyone a vote, but possibly the members at an AGM are better placed to make the decision.

    However it is a system that appears to have worked for many years and I fail to see the reason behind the desperation of some of the committee to bring in this new voting system before the AGM.

    There seems to be little planning for an electronic election. There has not even been placed before the committee an actual practical scheme for the election or a nomination for the electoral officer. Nothing has been said about whether candidates can have a manifesto sent to the membership as is done by BF. My view is on this basis alone the use of electronic voting should be held over until next season.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •