It’s titled in all caps, so you know it must be important.
Transcribed by Doug.
by Don Griffiths B-)
I’m taking the occasion of the second progress report for SwanCon XV to raise a very serious proposal for the future organisation of SwanCon. For the past fourteen years, the committees in Swancon have been very fortunate not to have had any legal hassles with anybody. The reason I say very fortunate is that had there been any problems, the onus, including any legal fees or fines, would have fallen individually on the members of the committee. Recently in the US, a convention lost its venue and is likely both to be fined by state authorities and sued by the hotel over an incident involving unlicensed liquor sales.
There is a mechanism for non-profit organisations to limit any financial liability to the assets of the organisation rather than the individual assets of the members. This mechanism is known as Incorporation. The mechanics of Incorporation are fairly simple, if time consuming. Basically, it involves the drafting of a constitution conforming to State Legal requirements. The constitution must then be voted upon and accepted by members of the organisation. Following this, the members must nominate and vote for a representative to act on their behalf. This representative then presents the application for incorporation, along with the constitution, to the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs. The application must be gazetted twice in a specified time period. If there is no objection, a certificate of incorporation is issued.
The following is an excerpt from the Legal Aid Commission’s excellent brochure “Incorporating an Association” describing the advantages and disadvantages of Incorporation.
- No trustee, officer or member of any incorporated association has any personal liability for the debts of the association (other than for any of the association’s property which may be in his hands)
- The association may acquire and hold property and may sue in its own name.
- The association may use the word “Incorporated” (or the abbreviation “Inc.” after its name.
- The name of the association may not be changed without the written approval of the Commissioner.
- The objects cannot be effectively changed or added to unless the Attorney-General certifies that after such change or addition the association continues to be one which should be incorporated.
- The safeguards achieved by incorporation must be constantly policed to be retained. They may be lost if a change in the constitution of the association is not notified to the Commissioner within the time and manner set out in the Act. A common example is noncompliance with the provisions of the Act whenever there is a change in the executive or management committee – particularly with respect to those officers authorised to use and hold the seal.
- It is the members as a body who constitute the Association and so under the law there are likely to be restrictions upon (if not absolute prohibitions against) individual members having commercial dealings with the Association.
It is my opinion that to protect members of the fan community who donate their time and efforts to SwanCons that we should proceed with incorporation. Included in this progress report is an article calling for the formation of Swancon Inc [Following – Ed.] Please give your active support to this venture, after all it is you who gain from it’s successful results.