Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Stop Living in the Dark Ages: Online Meetings in Sectional Title

online body corporate meetingsBy Jennifer Paddock

Everything is moving online. And many things already have.

Who has time to sit in a queue at the bank and wait for a teller? No one, we bank online.

Catching a flight? We avoid the queues and check-in online before we get to the airport.

Want that new gadget, dress, book? We find and order it online and get it delivered straight to us.

Missing someone overseas and want to see their face? We video Skype them.

 

You see where I’m going with this right? Technology is making our lives so much easier and yet in the South African sectional title industry there are still many people living in the dark ages. Which leads me to the point I want to make in this blog post.

Online meetings.

We have the chronic and recurring problem of not being able to achieve quorums. Why? Because it’s like going to the bank or standing in the check-in queue at the airport – it’s too much trouble! Put the meeting online however and we may see an improvement in attendance, even amongst apathetic owners.

 

The legal situation
There is no reason why trustee and owner meetings cannot be properly constituted with remote participants, online. Provided some sort of technology is used to create an interactive experience (video-conferencing technology is perfect), it is possible to allow people in remote locations to interact in a manner that will qualify as a genuine meeting.

I know it’s a big jump for some to start holding owner meetings online, but why not start small – with trustee meetings? A scheme with trustees under the age of 70 would probably love to conduct their meetings online, instead of having to physically meet once a month or once a quarter or however often they get together.

Think about it!

I’ll end off with a few important considerations for online meetings
– The concept of a meeting requires synchronous interaction between all participants, rather than an asynchronous serious of messages. So while email may be very useful, it is not appropriate for holding a meeting.
– When holding a meeting via video-conferencing, it is important that everyone entitled to attend and is present at the meeting is able to interact with all the other participants.
– In circumstances where the identity of a participant is not obvious from their physical appearance, it will be the duty of the chairperson to ascertain beyond reasonable doubt that the interactive communications are in fact from people entitled to attend the meeting.

 

For more information on the Law of Sectional Title Meetings we have a book and a short course which will teach you a lot and really open your mind!

Would you conduct meetings online? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Image source: http://www.forbes.com

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5 comments on “Stop Living in the Dark Ages: Online Meetings in Sectional Title

  1. Barend
    February 27, 2015

    Trustee meetings informal and via email

    Before the AGM I asked for minutes of the last years trustee meetings, but the MA said that the MA’s view meetings were held by email or informally, and that no minutes were therefor available.
    At our AGM, I requested the dates of (say 4) planned trustee meetings of the year. The trustees refused, and also refused to send notification of dates with the levy statements. They said they decide on , say, the Thursday and have a meeting on the Saturday – so owners cannot be informed.
    The MA said that the law said trustee meetings can be held using email and so no- one could attend. There would be no minutes, so no minutes could be sent.
    Neither the trustees nor the MA are prepared to send us minutes of their decisions, via the MA.
    I do understand that all 4 trustees cannot attend all trustee meetings due to work commitments, but alternative trustees can be formally appointed, or should we have done this at the AGM? How many alternative trustees may we have with 4 trustees?
    I do understand that trustee meetings could be very short if trustees have previously emailed round robin and have unanimous decisions at the trustee meeting.
    If we had 4 set dates and times, skype would be an optio

    “A private meeting of persons that happen to be trustees is not a valid meeting. Refer to PMR 15 (prescribed management rules: all trustees are entiled to be notified; any owner is entiled to attend and speak. Refer to PMR 34: minutes shall be kept.
    In my opinion a private session, of which no decisions taken were simply an informal discussion.
    There is no such thing as an informal meeting. It is either a properly convened meeting which complies with the requirements for the type of meeting concerned, i.e. proper notice sent out to ALL those entitled to attend within the time frame required, agenda, quorum and minutes taken; otherwise it is just a social get together.
    Trustee meetings are covered by PMR’s 15 to 24 and owners’ meetings by PMR’s 50 to 67.
    The legislation governing sectional title schemes not only does not make provision for informal meetings of any kind, but prescribes certain formalities applicable to ALL meetings (due notice, quorum, minutes). Convening informal meetings of the kind you describe also infringes the rights of ALL members of the BC, any or all of whom is/are entitled (in terms of PMRs 15[5] and 34[3]) to attend and inspect the minutes of any and every meeting of the trustees if they so wish – and also have the right to expect the trustees to comply with the Rules (e.g. PMR 34[1]) in inter alia this regard.
    Conflict can and does occur in sectional title. The statutory context is far from perfect. Trustees get elected democratically to serve all of the owners. They remain accountable to these owners. Also do sub-groupings occur. These are the reasons why it is necessary to give proper notice of all meetings. The meetings need not be 100% formal, but must allow for opposing viewpoints and voting if necessary. Minutes are necessary because of the accountability. Such an informal situation is unacceptable and the acts of the trustees suspicious.”
    Clearly the ST Act must be improved to spell out exactly what is allowed and how it should be done.

  2. Denial thomas
    December 31, 2013

    Whether you need to collaborate with customers, colleagues, vendors or mixed teams, online meetings are often the quickest, most efficient way. The video conferencing system like http://www.atdcomm.com.au/blog/74-new-doors-open-for-small-business-2offer many concrete advantages over traditional meetings. Making online the smarter way to meet.

  3. Ann
    December 11, 2013

    Been doing it for ages. Works a treat and a huge time saver for stressed executives who have to much on their plate but still find time for Trusteeship.

  4. CA Meijer (@hammingweight)
    December 1, 2013

    I stumbled upon your article after enabling Google hangouts for our trustees. My goal was rather to allow owners to be more easily ‘present’ at our trustees’ meetings. All our trustees live in the complex but many other owners don’t.

  5. Ian D. Samson
    October 25, 2013

    Video conferencing is all well & good for large schemes who can afford the high-end line speed or 3G (et.al.) technology, and assuming every trustee is computer-savvy. Small schemes have problems doing this where many trustees are at work during the day, some trustees do not even possess a computer let alone a “smart phone”. We meet by e-mail and printed form. It works for us. 5 Trustees in a complex of only12 units. It’s all legal and lawful and records are kept.

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