Go to Top

7 things you need to know about your rights as a club member


1. Unless the rules empower the Committee to admit new members, new members can only be admitted by the agreement of all members of the Club.

2. New members should not be entitled to vote immediately. It is advisable that a period of time elapses before they acquire the right to vote. This helps prevent takeover of the Club by new members.

3. Although all members are obliged to familiarise themselves with the Club rules it is recommended that all new members are sent a copy of the Club rules, upon their admission to the Club.

4. There no criteria to determine at what point a non-paying member can be deemed to have resigned his/her membership. The rules should clearly state that if a subscription is not paid by a certain date the person ceases to be a member. However, where such a rules exists, the Committee have no inherent power to re-admit a member or to allow late payment of the subscription and consequently the member must formally reapply for membership. Therefore, the rules should also contain a provision empowering the Committee to allow for the late or deferred payment of subscriptions and re-admission of members who did not pay their subscriptions on time.

5. Disciplinary sanctions such as suspension and expulsion cannot be imposed unless the rules specifically empower the Committee to do so.

6. To validly impose a suspension or expulsion on a member, the Committee must ensure that the rules of the Club are followed to the letter (even Notices convening the meetings and notice periods must be strictly observed) and the rules of Natural Justice must be applied.

The rules of Natural Justice require:

  1.  that the allegations made against the member are made known to him/her;
  2. that he or she is given reasonable opportunity to comment on the allegations and to put his/her side of the case forward;
  3. that the allegations are heard and determined in an unbiased manner.

 7. It can be useful for the rules to provide an appeal system permitting aggrieved members to appeal decisions made by a Disciplinary Sub-Committee. The appeals system will reduce the risk of intervention by the Courts, will assure members of a fair system for reaching decisions in disciplinary matters, and will allow the Appeals Sub-Committee to cure any procedural defects that might have arisen during the initial disciplinary hearing.

Need professional help for your club?

Dermot McNamara is the author of “A Legal Guide for Clubs and Associations”; the only book published in Ireland which covers this subject.

, ,