© 2014 Lions Clubs New Zealand
by MD 202 Legal Counsel, Alan Knowsley
Set out below are some of the frequently arising legal issues facing Lions and dealt with by your District and Multiple District Legal Counsel. This is a summary only and is not a substitute for legal advice on individual matters from your District or Multiple District Legal Counsel. If in doubt, consult them!
Remits to District Conventions should reach the Cabinet Secretary prior to the date set by the District Governor - usually 60 days prior to the convention. Remits should be checked with your District Legal Counsel to ensure proper wording and that any constitutional issues are taken into account before the remit is sent out to clubs to consider.
Cabinet secretaries should also provide all proposed remits to Multiple District Legal Counsel as far in advance of the convention as possible. This helps prevent remits falling over on technicalities.
Remits on non-constitutional matters require a simple majority (more than 50%). Constitutional remits require a 2/3rds majority. Proposed Multiple District projects require a simple majority at District Convention but 75% at the Multiple District Convention. District projects require a 75% majority.
Proposals to make representations to the government of the day require a 2/3rds majority.
Clubs are entitled to one delegate for each 10 members or major fraction thereof (5 or more). Club numbers are shown by Lions International records on the 1st day of the month prior to the convention.
It is recommended that all clubs be incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act. This confers protection to members from liabilities of the club eg contracts, debts, fines. 15 members are needed and they must pass a resolution to incorporate. Forms are available from The Registrar of Incorporated Societies. Your District Legal Counsel can assist with this process if required.
If a club fails to comply with the requirements to file annual returns this can result in the club being struck off and having to re-register. Annual returns should be accompanied by a certificate from a Board member that the accounts have been approved by members at a general meeting.
Clubs need to notify changes of registered office (so as to ensure they receive all correspondence) and any changes in the constitution also need to be filed along with copies of the resolutions adopting the new constitution.
This is a complicated process similar to a liquidation. If a club does wish to wind up then the District Legal Counsel should be asked to assist. The club must first pass a resolution appointing a liquidator. Then notify all club members in writing of another meeting where a vote will be taken to confirm/or otherwise the winding up. This second vote must be held at least 30 days after the first meeting.
If you are thinking of winding up then it is requested that you let your District Governor know as soon as possible and before any concrete decisions are taken.
The laws on the sale and supply of alcohol have changed and this will affect all Lions Clubs who provide alcohol to members, guests or the public. If you wish to provide alcohol for Lions meetings or functions for members and guests where a charge, donation or club fees are paid then you will need a licence.
This Act sets limits and duties on the collection, storage and use of personal information. The Act is quite technical but there are some main principles.
(1) Get permission to use the collected information for the purposes you need it for.
(2) Do not use the information for other purposes.
(3) Get rid of the information once the purpose for which it was collected has ended.
(4) People are entitled to see information about themselves and to request correction. If you do not agree to correct the information you must mark the information showing that a correction has been requested and what it was.
(5) Take care that information cannot be accessed by unauthorised persons.
HEALTH & SAFETY
The need for care to ensure Health & Safety is obvious. It does not just apply to the employment situation.
The Health & Safety in Employment Act provides duties on employers, persons in control of places or plant, self-employed, principals (eg hirer of a contractor) and employees. Lions can be more than one of these at a time.
Volunteers who do work for another on a regularly on an on-going basis and the work is an integral part of the business of the other person are covered by the legislation. However, volunteers doing a fundraising activity (amongst other things) are excluded. Even though volunteers are exempt in certain circumstances from the Health and Safety legislation the Crimes Act imposes duties to take care of everyone.
You must take all practicable steps to identify then eliminate, minimise or isolate hazards. This must be regularly reviewed. Keep written records of this process as proof that it was properly carried out. All practicable steps now depends on the circumstances including the nature and severity of the harm, the current state of knowledge of the harm and its avoidance and the availability and cost of avoidance. Harm now includes mental as well as physical and covers stress from work hazards.
The Health & Safety in Employment Act provides penalties of two years in prison and $500,000 maximum fines. The only defence is a total absence of fault.
If your activities are covered by the Act you must:
• Keep a register of all incidents where a person was or might have been harmed.
• Report serious harm to OSH immediately and in writing within seven days
• Do not disturb the accident scene (except for safety reasons) if serious harm occurs.
• Provide employees with an opportunity to have input into your safety plan.
It is now unlawful to be indemnified or insured against fines and penalties under the Act.
An easy to follow Lions Safety Action Plan has been prepared for Distribution to clubs and is available on the web. Even if you are not covered by the Act still take all care to identify and eliminate hazards so no one is hurt during your Lions activities. Your planning must be up to scratch when conducting fundraising and other events.
Make sure each event has a Safety Officer and that proper safety planning is actually done. Record what you do.
If in doubt on any issue consult your District Legal Counsel on District issues and Multiple District Counsel on MD matters.