A reader would like to know whether the chairperson of a body corporate may appoint a new trustee to the board without consulting the other owners or trustees.
See the reader’s question here.
A Sectional Title Scheme is controlled and managed by a body corporate and as such it is responsible for the control, administration and management of the common property for the benefit of all owners.
The trustees are people who are appointed to look after the finances and running of the complex on behalf of the body corporate and are appointed by the owners at the annual general meeting.
The trustees in turn appoint a chairperson at their first meeting after the AGM.
This means that a chairperson is ultimately merely one of the trustees and as such is trusted to act honestly and in the interests of the body corporate.
It is important to consider how trustees are elected and what happens should they leave office during their elected term.
Trustees are elected at the first general meeting and hold office until the AGM, at which time they stand down but are eligible for re-election.
Thereafter, election of trustees takes place at each subsequent AGM and the trustees may fill any vacancies that might occur in the interim.
This is usually done by invitation. Any trustee appointed in this manner is also expected to hold office until the next AGM, when he or she would stand down but be available for re-election.
During the absence of a trustee, or if a trustee is unable to act as such, the remaining trustees may appoint another person, owner or otherwise, to the position.
An alternate trustee has the same powers and responsibilities as a trustee.
An alternate trustee ceases to hold office if the trustee whom he or she replaces ceases to be a trustee, or if the alternate’s appointment is revoked by the others.
The chairperson’s main function is to chair the meetings and his or her only additional power compared to that of other trustees is the casting vote when there’s a deadlock among trustee voters.
This means that, if there are an equal number of votes once everyone has voted, the chairperson may vote a second time to break the deadlock.
The chairman’s authority is therefore not elevated substantially over that of the other trustees and certainly not to a point where an autocracy is created.
From the above, it appears that there are various reasons as to why another trustee would be appointed without the owners’ involvement.
However, this would be an interim measure until the next AGM, when the vacancy can be filled in the proper manner.
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