Members update re
Constitution legal spend.
We held our resumed
AGM in Hastings on 14 th October and completed the scheduled
business. In response to requests from some members that we
have a professional chair for the meeting, it was conducted
by Mark von Dadelszen, an eminent lawyer in the field of
Constitutional law. After a lengthy debate about precise
legal terminology, the new Constitution was passed by a
decisive majority. The only votes against were from members
of the former constitution working group and block votes
from two clubs presided over by working group members.
The new Constitution has been registered with the
Incorporated Societies body and is now our active document.
Since the meeting, the Association has not been destroyed,
as some predicted, and club flying has continued as best it
can, given our somewhat variable spring weather.
So what has all of this cost
us? It has taken up a great deal of Council time that could
have better been devoted to improving the fundamentals of
the Association. The refusal of some members to accept the
ability of the Council to manage the Association and desire
legal rulings has been expensive. We have been obliged to
follow this path because some members who hold or have held
positions within the Association have chosen to challenge
the Council and appeal directly to the membership. Here is a
breakdown of the costs incurred since the AGM in July 2016.
Detail of expenditure with legal advisors,
Bannister and von Dadelszen.
Initial engagement and response to threats of legal
up after WG email to members regarding unilateral
Research and initial opinion on new draft
Constitution by Council.
Contribution of items
required by future legislation
Preparation of case studies re WG emails.
Compilation of legal opinion to
be published on
Research on Proxy votes and opinion on matters
raised by the WG
chairmanship including preparation
investigations have found that no action or omission by the
Council has, at any time, been in breach of our Constitution
or the law. We are left somewhat poorer and battered by the
experience. The Council has decided not to raise the
subscriptions by the required $10 per person to recover the
unplanned spend but to take the money from our reserves. We
will look at other measures to manage the Association more
economically so that we can continue to support members both
as competitive teams and by helping clubs improve flying
The third item in the table is work related
to supporting the Council prepared new draft Constitution to
ensure that it is a legally robust document and whilst not
directly initiated by WG action, it has been required
because of the intense scrutiny the topic has attracted in
members have been very angry that the Council has been
challenged in this way and feel that action should be taken.
Three formal complaints have been lodged. The new
Constitution embodies a grievance and disputes procedure
that can be used in such circumstances. It involves the
Council appointing a separate body to investigate
complaints. Those complained against have right to a fair
hearing and then a decision must be made. The options are:
- To dismiss the complaint.
- To find justification in
the complaint and send a letter of admonition to the
- To suspend Association membership for the
- To terminate Association membership for the
It is unfortunate that we should begin the
era of our new Constitution with a grievance resolution
process but we must focus on the mutual objective of
supporting the aeromodelling hobby within the rules of the
Association. The Council is elected to manage the
Association and must be allowed
to do so.
President, Model Flying New Zealand
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