This Q&A article is about body corporate communications and electronic voting during the Coronavirus crisis in QLD.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: Over 25% of owners have requested a meeting. If they issue the meeting notice themselves and provide less than the 21 day notice, is this meeting valid?
- QUESTION: Can an EGM meeting notice be served on a weekend in Queensland?
- QUESTION: Before proceeding to engage in electronic voting, does the body corporate need to call an EGM to approve electronic voting?
Question: Over 25% of owners have requested a meeting. If they issue the meeting notice themselves and provide less than the 21 day notice, is this meeting valid?
A group of owners in our body corporate wants to call a meeting using the part of the legislation that requires one to be called if 25 per cent of owners request one be held. They want to issue the notice for this meeting themselves and provide less than the 21 day notice period. Is this meeting valid? Can additional motions be added to the meeting notice?
Answer: A meeting is only valid if it is validly called.
A meeting is only valid if it is validly called.
In this case, if owners are requesting an extraordinary general meeting the notice requesting the meeting must be given to the body corporate secretary or, in the secretary’s absence, the chairperson. This can be done via the body corporate manager.
The request must include:
- signatures of at least 25 per cent of lot owners or their representatives.
motions the owners want to have decided at the meeting.
- And, the person receiving the notice must call the meeting within 14 days of receiving the notice.
Then, each lot owner has to be given written notice of the meeting at least 21 days before the meeting. This must include:
- the agenda
- a proxy form
- a company nominee form, if the owner is a company
- a voting paper for all open motions
- for all motions decided by secret ballot
- a secret voting paper
- an envelope marked ‘secret voting paper’
- a separate particulars tab or envelope
- any explanatory schedule or material required.
The question seems to suggest that the owners who make up the 25 per cent or more group that have triggered the meeting have then arranged their own meeting outside of the criteria set out above. In that case the likelihood is that the meeting would not have been valid.
The second question is whether additional motions can be added to the meeting. There is no reason why not. If a body corporate manager/secretary received the notice they would ordinarily advise the committee of this and the requirement to call a meeting and it is an opportunity consider other motions relating to the issue or to deal with other plan matters.
For more info see the government website on calling meetings: Queensland Government: Calling an extraordinary general meeting.
This post appears in Strata News #483.
Question: Can an EGM meeting notice be served on a weekend in Queensland?
Answer: The legislation requires that a general meeting must be held 21 days after the meeting notice is given to lot owners. There is no reference to this being working days so provided the notice was legally served, probably by email or hand delivery if on Saturday or Sunday, serving a notice on the weekend is feasible.
This post appears in Strata News #475.
Question: Before proceeding to engage in electronic voting, does the body corporate need to call an EGM to approve electronic voting?
I understand that some bodies corporate have effectively dispensed with AGMs and are now simply advising owners to vote online or lodge voting papers by hand, mail or email.
Even in this COVID era, with social distancing etc., is it permissible to dispense with AGMs in this manner?
Also, The Body Corporate Commissioner (Qld) has recently reminded us (with COVID-19 in mind) that “You can encourage owners to submit voting papers instead of attending the meeting personally (or to vote electronically if your body corporate has approved electronic voting) if your body corporate has approved electronic voting”. This is, of course, a requirement under the BCCM Act BUT some bodies corporate may not have approved electronic voting.
Before proceeding to engage in electronic voting, should those who have not approved electronic voting now move to rectify that situation by way of an EGM?
Answer: It would seem unnecessary as such a motion could simply be included on the agenda of the next general meeting.
As is the case with a number of issues – whether a general meeting is valid or not depends on the specific circumstances. The primary theme adopted by adjudicators is whether an owner’s right to vote was prevented and if so, would it have affected the result of the meeting.
Owners have a statutory right to attend and participate in general meetings. During the peak of the COVID restrictions, there was more flexibility afforded to bodies corporate in interfering with these rights. As restrictions are being relaxed, so too would the flexibility of bodies corporate interfering with these participation rights.
A body corporate can certainly recommend that owners vote in advance of a meeting without any real risk of reprisal.
It is really a question for the committee to determine whether it is worth the costs of calling an EGM just to approve electronic voting for the next AGM. It would seem rather unnecessary though as such a motion could simply be included on the agenda of the next general meeting.
This post appears in Strata News #379.
Have a question about communications and electronic voting in a QLD body corporate or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- NAT: Coronavirus & Strata – What Does the Legislation Say? Not Much
- NAT: Apartment Owners Ask: Do We Still Need To Hold Meetings In Person?
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.