Challenging the Chairman of a Meeting

Michael Taliercio

Michael Taliercio

Have you ever been at a meeting that you did not believe was being run properly?  Is the chair ruling every motion out of order?  Were you unsure on what you could do or did you feel like there was nothing you could do?  Fortunately, there are actions that you can take in these situations.  If your group utilizes Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, then there are several procedures that allow you to challenge the chair if you believe the meeting is not being run properly.

One procedure some people might not be aware of to challenge the ruling of the chair is the Appeal.  If you believe that the chair made an incorrect ruling, then you are allowed to Appeal the decision of the chair.  Appealing the decision of the chair is as simple as being recognized and then saying “I Appeal the decision of the chair.”  Then, provided another person seconds the Appeal, the decisions of the chair will be put to a vote of the members at the meeting.    So, make sure that someone else is willing to second your appeal!

Then, depending on exactly what you are appealing; the Appeal may or may not be debatable.  For example, an Appeal while an undebatable question is pending is not debatable.  However, the chair is always allowed to give a speech explaining their ruling (even if the Appeal is not debatable).  If the Appeal is debatable, then all members can speak once on appeal except the chair who entitled to speak twice.  In a debatable Appeal, the chair is allowed to speak both at the beginning and the close of debate on the Appeal.  After all the debate on the Appeal, a majority vote will then sustain the decision of the chair.

If you truly believe that the chair of the meeting made an incorrect ruling, then an Appeal is the best method of challenging that ruling.  However a note of caution, an Appeal is improper if there cannot be two reasonable opinions regarding whatever the chair is ruling on or if there has already been an Appeal.  In these cases, an Appeal would be dilatory and will not be allowed by the chair.

If you have any questions about appealing the decision of the chair or any other motions in Robert’s Rules of Order, then I would encourage you to contact myself or one of my colleagues at Black, Slaughter and Black, PA.    I and other lawyers at Black, Slaughter and Black, PA regularly advise our clients regarding meeting procedures.