Most people who are involved with registered clubs will be aware of the concept of By-Laws and a significant number of clubs will have their own set of By-Laws.

In this newsletter, we look at the concept of By-Laws and their significance to registered clubs.

In the case of registered clubs, By-Laws are made by the Board pursuant to powers given to the Board in the Club’s Constitution. In this regard, club constitutions usually have a provision called Powers of the Board and one of those specific powers will be for the Board to make By-Laws

As a general rule, clubs constitutions deal with important issues such as the rights of members, the makeup and composition of the Board, the powers of the Board, procedures around General Meetings and Board meetings.

However, club constitutions generally do not deal with a number of operational and practical matters.

For this reason, By-Laws play an important role in supplementing the provisions of club constitutions and dealing with matters which are not contained in club constitutions.

By Laws generally deal with operational and practical matters, including rules around what is expected of members and what is permissible and not permissible within the club’s premises and surrounding areas such as car parks and sporting facilities.

Further to this, By-Laws can be used to address matters which club constitutions do not address or are otherwise silent on. For example, a club constitution may not address the issue of electioneering in board elections and consequently, clubs could use their By-Laws to address this issue and set out restrictions and parameters for electioneering.

By-Laws can be passed by the board of a club, and they do not need to be passed by members in general meetings or at annual general meetings.

In this regard, By-Laws will, subject to the constitution of the club, take immediate effect from the date that they are posted on the Club’s noticeboard.

As a result of this, By-Laws are flexible and agile enough to address matters which are operational and practical in nature or alternatively, need an urgent response.

By-Laws can address any matters which are required by clubs but some of the most common matters addressed by way of By-Laws are:

    • Conduct in the Club and use of the Club’s premises; and
    • Guests and Temporary members;
    • Parking;
    • Food and beverage;
    • Restrictions on borrowing and loaning monies;
    • Access to Premises;
    • Dress Regulations;
    • Complaints and Suggestions;
    • Conduct towards employees;
    • Rules for Club members using the courtesy Bus service;
    • Trading hours;
    • Operating and Playing Gaming Machines;
    • Sub Club activities.

Although boards of registered clubs have the power to create and pass By-Laws, boards must ensure that any proposed by-laws are not inconsistent with their club constitution.

If a proposed By-Law is inconsistent with the constitution of the club, the By-Law will have no legal effect.

For example, if a club passed a by-law creating a new category of membership with voting rights but the club’s constitution does not state that that new category of members has any voting rights, the by-law to create the new category of membership would be inconsistent and consequently, have no legal effect.

In addition to this, we are aware that a number of clubs may have By-Laws which were adopted years ago but they have not been reviewed or amended for many years. This can be problematic if the By-Laws do not reflect the existing practices of the club or address specific circumstances of the club.

For example, the By-laws of the club may specify outdated procedures for dealing with membership complaints or other grievances (including sexual harassment complaints) and the club may be bound by those procedures even though they no longer apply at the club.

In summary, in our view, all registered clubs (irrespective of their size) should have a set of By-Laws which are up to date and deal with operational and practical matters relating to their specific circumstances of the club.

Additionally, in our view, clubs who wish to adopt By-Laws or amend their existing By-Laws should obtain legal advice to ensure that the proposed By-Laws or changes to the By-Laws are consistent with the constitution of the club.

We can assist clubs with all matters relating to By-Laws, including the preparation of new By-Laws or modification to existing By-Laws.

Further Information and Contact Details

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of this Newsletter or want any legal advice about these matters, please contact any member of the Clubs team on 8251 7777 or by email:

Bruce Gotterson:b.gotterson@pigott.com.au
Ray Travers:r.travers@pigott.com.au
Tony Johnston:t.johnston@pigott.com.au
John Ralston:j.ralston@pigott.com.au
Michael McCluskey:m.mccluskey@pigott.com.au
Julian Hawkins:j.hawkins@pigott.com.au

This Newsletter is produced by Pigott Stinson. It is intended to provide general information only. The contents of this Newsletter do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought from us in respect of the matters set out in this Newsletter. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.