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Guide for Committee Chairmen

  1. Introduction

The powers and responsibilities of the chairman of a CA Committee are defined in the Standing Orders of the Council (SO) and Council Practice Book (CPB), which are published in the governing documents section of the website and available in print from the CA Office. However, they can be rather daunting to those not familiar with them, so this document attempts to guide you through them and, in some cases, put some flesh on the bones.

It describes the structure and processes that were introduced in 2001 (with only minor changes since) though they may change more significantly if the governance working party makes recommendations that are adopted, or it is decided to streamline them before then. References to the Standing Orders and Council Practice Book are to the October 2017 editions. In some cases, the document describes what should, rather than actually does, happen: in particular, committees that do not meet physically tend to operate less formally than those which do.

Please let the Secretary know of any errors or omissions and ask for clarification if needed, if only to help your successors. Similarly, please suggest any changes you think should be made to the Standing Orders or Council Practice Book.

  1. Overall Management and Reporting Structure

Clause 12 of the Constitution of the Association vests "management and control of the property, fund and affairs of the Association and the fulfilment of its objects" in the Council (except as otherwise provided in the Constitution) and clause 25 explicitly gives the Council power to appoint committees and delegate powers and duties to them.

Council has used this power in SO 13, CPB 11 (which defines the names and membership of the standing committees) and CPB 12 (which defines their responsibilities). CPB 11.1 divides them into Principal and Other committees: the distinction being that the Principal committees have one or more scheduled meetings each year, whereas the Others normally operate by e-mail or Skype as required.

CPB 11.2 states that "The Management Committee is responsible to Council; all other Standing Committees are responsible to, and present their reports to, the Management Committee. Each Committee Chairman is accountable for the performance of his committee." The intention is that Council delegates day to day management of the CA's affairs to the Management Committee, confining itself to decisions about policy. The formal statement of this is in SO 6.3:

"Discussion of the Management Committee Report should be confined to those matters which the Management Committee have indicated are matters which concern policy and need therefore to be referred to the Council. Any Council member who wishes to raise a matter, either on the Report itself or connected with the work of a Standing Committee, which has not been indicated by the Management Committee as a matter of policy must, prior to the Council Meeting have discussed the matter with the appropriate Standing Committee Chairman."

CPB 12.5 states that committees other than the Management and Executive Committees "are responsible to the Management Committee but are empowered to act without reference back unless decisions they intend to take contradict established policy or involve projected expenditure in excess of agreed budgets, or may adversely affect the work of other committees." Because the committee chairmen are not necessarily at the Management Committee meetings (unless invited under CPB 11.24), a member of the Management Committee is tasked, by CPB 12.4.14, with reporting back to them.

The Management Committee normally meets physically three times a year (on a Saturday early in January, March and July) and the Secretary will request that written reports, using the template given in https://www.croquet.org.uk/?d=299 are sent to him for distribution, with a a deadline of a twelve days before the meeting (as copies are sent out by post to those attending, to arrive a week beforehand).

The Executive Committee (CPB 12.3) meets on an ad-hoc basis and is there to handle emergencies and confidential matters like staff appointments and awards.

  1. Committee Membership

The chairmen and members of each committee are formally elected at the Council meeting following the AGM, but in practice are nominated by the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Management Committee, in consultation with the current committee chairmen and council members, facilitated by the Secretary. Those nominated can include individual members of the Association (which will soon include members of Member Clubs who have opted to become Standard members) who are not on Council.

Committees can co-opt additional members if required, up to a default maximum of 12 (except for Coaching and Development Committees, which also have regional officers and, in the case of Coaching, representatives of the Academies). Please inform the CA Office and Secretary if you do, so that the database (which feeds the website) and his records can be updated.

CPB 11.18 specifies the quorum for physical meetings as half the number of members currently elected, appointed or co-opted to serve on it and CPB 11.19 gives the conditions for teleconferences and decisions taken by the chairman after email discussion.

Procedure at committee meetings is set out in CPB 14.1, but is generally less formal than for Council.

Committees are encouraged (CPB 11.25) to appoint a Vice-Chairman, both to deputise and assist the Chairmen when required, and with a view to succession.

Committee chairmen can serve for a maximum of 4 years in succession. (CPB 11.20).

  1. Committee Responsibilities

Each committee (with the exception of Management and Executive) has a set of general responsibilities stated in CPB 12.2, as well as specific responsibilities stated in CPB 12.7-23. In addition, they can be tasked with other things by Council or the Management Committee (CPB 12.1).

Among the general responsibilities is the preparation of lists of their objectives and plans (CPB 12.2.4) for confirmation at the winter meeting of Council and ideas for the next session at the spring meeting (CPB 1.5). Chairmen of Council also ask that they review the relevant parts of Council's Strategy Document.

  1. Communication and Record Keeping

Committees are responsible for appointing a member of the committee to maintain their website presence and communicate with Individual Members and Member Clubs through that and The Croquet Gazette. Anything that may be regarded as sensitive or contentious should first be discussed with a member of the Executive Committee. (CPB 12.2.6).

The Secretary and CA Manager should be informed of committee decisions expeditiously (CPB 12.2.5) and minutes and new or updated policy papers should be published on the website, normally within 4 weeks of the meeting (CPB 12.2.6). Committees which don't meet physically and hence don't keep minutes should record their decisions in their reports to the Management Committee (CPB 11.19 and 12.2.2).

CPB 12.2.7 requires a list of significant decisions taken during the past 12 months to be sent to the Secretary, for possible inclusion in the general list of significant decisions and its extract, which are available as a source of precedents.

  1. Financial Matters

Section 16 of the CPB sets out the Budget and Expenditure Approval policy approved by Council in March, 2016.

Principal Committees are asked by the Treasurer to submit their budget for the following calendar year, and forecasts for following years, each autumn (CPB 12.2.1).

Committee members can claim travel expenses for attending meetings whether or not they are members of Council; these are separately budgeted. Other expenses should fall within agreed budgets.

  1. CA Office

Although the CA Office may be able to help with some of your committee's activities, its resources are limited (particularly during this current period of membership transition) and, except in a few specific instances, its Manager (CPB 4) does not have a specific responsibility to do so. Please consult the Chairman of Council before making requests for significant assistance.

  1. Disciplinary and Appeals Procedures

The CA's disciplinary and appeals procedures are specified in clause 8 and Appendix 1 of the Constitution, SO 13.1, CPB 2.8, 11.15, 12.3.4, 12.22.9, 12.23.9. Note, in particular, that the latter two only empower the tournament committees to refer serious or multiple alleged offences to a disciplinary panel, not to impose sanctions themselves (though tournament officials have summary powers to impose sanctions affecting a player's participation in a tournament in progress under the tournament regulations).

  1. Checklist for Incoming Chairmen

The following is offered as the first stab at a checklist of actions for someone taking over as chairman of a committee:

  • Check that the website shows the membership of your committee and, for committees that meet physically, its meeting date(s) are as expected.
  • Use it to email its members to introduce yourself and inform/remind them about meeting dates. (Members of Council should know that you have been elected to chair it, but co-opted members may not).
  • Try and arrange a handover with your predecessor if you have not already done so.
  • Prepare an agenda for the first meeting of your committee which includes (or do this by e-mail if your committee doesn't meet physically):
    • Elect a Vice-Chairman
    • Appoint a web/gazette communicator
    • Decide objectives for the year and review the strategy document
    • Review expenditure for the year just ending and agree a proposed budget for the following year, and forecasts for future ones, if the Treasurer sends you data and asks you for one.
    • Decide metrics by which the state of the activities for which your committee is responsible can be judged. Dave Kibble wrote a brief paper discussing this and giving some possible examples.
  • Consider whether you need to allocate specific tasks to members of the committee or co-opt any additional members to get what you want done.
  • Consider whether any of your plans for the forthcoming season affect the fixtures book and, if so, tell the editor (Liz Larsson in the CA Office) in good time. It goes to press before Christmas.


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