Commissioners Corner: What is a VOC?

Wednesday October 10th, 2018

Sometimes body corporate committees face the issue of not being able to find a mutually agreeable time when all members are personally available to attend a committee meeting. This may because they are all busy working or perhaps some live interstate or overseas.

When this happens, the legislation allows the committee to ‘vote outside a committee meeting’ (VOCM or VOC) to make a decision. This is commonly referred to in the industry as a flying minute, VOCM or VOC. The process of a VOCM enables voting members of the body corporate committee to make decisions in writing. Most committees use email to do this.
The Information and Community Education Unit receives many enquiries about when committees should use a VOCM instead of calling a meeting and sometimes clients complain when people feel they are being overused.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding their use. It is at the discretion of each body corporate committee. In some situations all committee member live interstate and it would be expensive and impractical for them to meet face to face.

The following information should give owners and committees an understanding of how VOCMs are conducted.

All committee members must be given notice of the proposed motion that is going to be decided. Advice should also be forwarded to all lot owners so they are aware of motions the committee is considering. The notice and advice of the motion may be given by the secretary or another member of the committee who is authorised to give the notice by the majority of voting members of the committee. They are served at the same time.

If there is an emergency situation it is acceptable that contact is made with as many committee members as practicable and the decision may be given orally, such as over the phone. This is to ensure that a decision is made quickly, to cope with the emergency situation. It should be noted that this method should only be used for genuine emergencies, such as deciding on something that may cause imminent danger to people or damage to a lot or the common property.

Even when there is not an emergency there is nothing to prevent committee members ringing each other up to discuss the decision before casting their written vote.
For the motion to pass using a VOCM the majority of ALL voting members of the committee (entitled to vote) must agree. For example, if a committee has seven members, four of these must vote yes for the motion to pass. This is different from a committee meeting were a motion will pass if a majority of those present at the meeting and entitled to vote on the motion, are in favour of the motion.

After the decision has been made, a record of the decision is to be sent to all lot owners (unless they have requested not to receive records), within 21 days of the decision being made. The record should include the:
• date notice of the motion was given;
• names of the committee members to whom notice was given;
• words of the motion voted on;
• names of the committee members who voted on the motion;
• number for votes for and against the motion.

All motions determined this way must be confirmed at the next meeting of the committee and included in the minutes for the committee meeting

When making decisions by voting outside a committee meeting the committee still need to be mindful that any decision made must still comply with the legislation as it relates to the following;
• be within the committee spending limit
• have two quotes if above the major spending limit for the scheme
• not be a restricted issue for the committee
• still be aware of conflict of interest provisions
• be reasonable

Although the legislation does not provide for timeframes for committee members to respond to a notice for a VOCM it may a good idea for the individual issuing the notice for a decision, to give a timeframe so that committee members understand the decision should be made in a timely fashion.
Votes outside committee meetings provide committees with a quick and flexible way of making decision’s and should be utilised as committees feel necessary. If other lot owners feel that they are being over used by their committee they should express their concern directly with their committee members.

Note that occupiers, who are not lot owners, are entitled to be provided with a copy of VOCM decisions after the process has been completed if they request same in accordance with the access to records requirements as set out in the Act.

This article was contributed by Chris Irons, Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.