Refresher – Robert’s Rules of Order (Part 1)

I love the fall season. Thanksgiving, Halloween and AGM season (?). All jokes aside, another AGM season is quickly approaching and many notices have already been sent to the owners and mortgagees of record. This week I will provide a quick refresher for condominiums that use Robert’s Rules of Order at their meetings.

Today I briefly discuss the types of motions under Robert’s Rules of Order: main, subsidiary, privileged, incidental, and previous motions.

A main motion is a motion that brings business before the meeting. Typical main motions in condominiums include approving the minutes of the last meeting, appointing the auditor, electing directors, and voting upon a by-law.

A subsidiary motion assists the meeting in treating or disposing of another motion. The most common for condominium meetings is a motion to amend a motion. For example, an owner could use a motion to amend if he wants to change a proposed standard unit by-law to include flooring where the proposed by-law excludes flooring. The motion to amend must be done during the debate before the vote on the motion. A subsidiary motion may also be used to limit the time for debate, or delay or postpone a motion until later in the meeting or at a subsequent meeting.

A privileged motion is a motion that has to do with matters of special importance that, without debate, should be allowed to interrupt the other business. Examples of privileged motions include those to enforce the agenda (called a call for orders of the day), to address matters affecting a right or privilege such as noise or confidential information (called raising a question of privilege), recess for a short period of time, or adjourn the meeting.

The fourth type of motion is the incidental motion. Incidental motions relate to the pending business. Examples of incidental motions that may arise at an AGM include point of order (where a breach of the rules occurs), suspend the rules, or a motion related to the method of voting (i.e. to require a vote by ballot).

Finally, a previous motion enables the meeting to reopen a completed question during the same meeting, take up one temporarily disposed of, or to change something previously adopted. For example, a motion to reconsider allows the meeting to reconsider a vote if new information comes to light that may change the result of the vote, such as an error or omission from a draft by-law.

Later this week I will explain how to make, consider, and amend a motion. I will also discuss some specific motions that may be of use to condominiums, such as motions to amend a motion, adjourn the meeting, or raise a point of order.