Body Corporate Committees are often run by busy individuals volunteering their time with the best interests of the Scheme at heart. As the saying goes, if you want something done then give it to a busy person……
It is therefore not surprising that time set aside for a Committee meeting is precious to both the Committee members and the Body Corporate Manager who may have been holding his or her breath for certain decisions to be made at that meeting.
How then, should a Committee handle the request or presence of an uninvited and unannounced lot owner?
Does a non-Committee member have an automatic right to speak at a Body Corporate Committee meeting if they are not also a Committee member?
Can that non-Committee member demand an audience at the Committee meeting?
The answer to both questions is NO.
Importantly, neither the Body Corporate and Community Management Act nor any of the Modules set out in detail who may or may not attend and address a Committee meeting.
However where legislation is silent, the common law provides:
“the Committee may invite any person to attend a Committee meeting if the Committee considers that person will be able to assist the Committee in its operation. It is open for a person to seek to attend a Committee meeting however, this is at all times subject to the Committee approving such attendance. The Committee has the right to decline its approval without giving reasons.”
The above quote is from adjudicator Meek in Kookaburra Park Eco Village  QBCCMCmr 327 (3 July 2000).
Importantly the Adjudicator went immediately on to say:
“Further, I consider that this is not a decision of the Committee which is reviewable by this office.”
Are there any advantages to allowing a non-Committee member to attend and speak to the Committee?
This would have to answered by each Committee on a case-by-case basis.
For example, the Committee may invite a non-Committee member to attend where:
- The non-member has information which the Committee needs quickly in order to make a decision; or
- The non-member is interested is becoming a Committee member and is interested in seeing how the meetings are run; or
- It is not inconvenient for the Committee to hear what the non-member has to say
The Committee may refuse a non-Committee member’s request to attend a meeting where:
- It is apparent the non-member’s issue has previously been raised and decided upon and there is no new relevant information; or
- It is apparent the non-member will be abusive to other members or the Body Corporate Manager; or
- The non-member has previously attended a Committee meeting only to cause disruption and delay.
What if the non-Committee member raises matters that are not on the Committee’s agenda?
Subject to the Committee’s discretion to give the non-member time to ventilate an issue, the Committee can make a decision on the freshly-presented issue notwithstanding the matter was not on the agenda.
Section 57(1) of the Standard Module requires:
“The notice calling a Committee meeting must include an agenda stating the substance of issues to be considered at the meeting”
and section 57(2) states:
“However, the Committee may also consider other issues raised at the meeting”
That very issue was relevantly discussed in The Meadows  QBCCMCmr 591 (21 November 2001) where a non-Committee member attended a Committee meeting which was held immediately after an informal owner’s meeting had taken place.
Initially, no objection was raised as to her attendance at the Committee meeting.
Following the commencement of the Committee meeting, the non-Committee member was asked questions by the Body Corporate Manager about her view on the collection and payment of levies, presumably in order to allow her to bring those concerns to the attention of the Committee.
Subsequently the Committee chairperson brought an application to have that Committee meeting declared void because issues not on the agenda had been discussed and the Body Corporate Manager had “hi-jacked” the meeting by allowing the non-Committee member to attend and speak.
The Adjudicator did not agree with the chairperson’s submissions and after considering sections 57(1) and 57(2) said:
“there is no legal justification to declare the 9 July Committee meeting void on the basis that an issue that was not on the agenda was considered at the meeting”.
Although not re-iterated in the judgement, most Body Corporate Managers will be aware that the Scheme’s body corporate manager is automatically a non-voting member of the Body Corporate Committee.
So there you have it – the attendance of non-Committee members at the Committee meeting is a matter left to the Committee’s unfettered discretion.
It is important to note that the adjudicators orders that we review each month are made on a case by case basis by the commissioners office based on the applications, submissions, by laws pertaining to each of the schemes, legislation that is applicable and are not a fit all order.