This Q&A about Secret Ballots has been answered by Peter Hunt, Mathews Hunt Legal.
Question: If the body corporate passes an ordinary resolution that a particular vote is to be by secret ballot, can the signatures to the request be kept secret and if so, how?
The Queensland regulations state that an extraordinary general meeting of the body corporate can be called by a written request signed by at least 25% of lot owners or their representatives.
If the body corporate passes an ordinary resolution (or has a by-law) that a particular vote such as removing a committee member is to be by secret ballot, can the signatures to the request be kept secret and if so, how?
Answer: Any resolution of the Body Corporate to keep the request secret would be invalid.
There is no provision in the legislation for keeping secret the signatories to a request for an extraordinary meeting as the request forms part of the Body Corporate records. Any resolution of the Body Corporate to keep the request secret would be invalid.
The only exception is if the request contains defamatory matter, being a comment that would tend to cause people to avoid or think less of any person identified in the motion, such as by alleging that the person engaged in fraud. In that situation, the committee should resolve to place the request on the ‘not to be inspected file’.
However, a request for an extraordinary general meeting should not contain anything defamatory.
The reasons why the request must be open for review include to ensure that owners can check if the signatures are valid and to ensure transparency, which is reasonable when significant costs may be incurred.
It is interesting to note that owners sign a request for an EGM sometimes because they believe in the issue, and at other times to stop being hassled by the person wanting support. Accordingly, nobody should assume that because a person signed a request that the person supports the motion in question.
This post appears in Strata News #236.
- QLD: Q&A Body corporate voting rules – What you can and can’t do
- QLD: The different body corporate committee roles
- QLD: Q&A How many proxies can one person hold?
Have a question about secret ballots or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.