Members update re Constitution legal spend.
We held our resumed AGM in Hastings on 14 th October and completed the scheduled business. In response to requests from some members that we have a professional chair for the meeting, it was conducted by Mark von Dadelszen, an eminent lawyer in the field of Constitutional law. After a lengthy debate about precise legal terminology, the new Constitution was passed by a decisive majority. The only votes against were from members of the former constitution working group and block votes from two clubs presided over by working group members.
The new Constitution has been registered with the Incorporated Societies body and is now our active document. Since the meeting, the Association has not been destroyed, as some predicted, and club flying has continued as best it can, given our somewhat variable spring weather.

The Costs
So what has all of this cost us? It has taken up a great deal of Council time that could have better been devoted to improving the fundamentals of the Association. The refusal of some members to accept the ability of the Council to manage the Association and desire legal rulings has been expensive. We have been obliged to follow this path because some members who hold or have held positions within the Association have chosen to challenge the Council and appeal directly to the membership. Here is a breakdown of the costs incurred since the AGM in July 2016.

Date Detail of expenditure with legal advisors, Bannister and von Dadelszen. Ex GST
14 Sept 2016 Initial engagement and response to threats of legal action $1,185.43
11 Oct 2016 Follow up after WG email to members regarding unilateral action $1,480.43
10 Mar 2017 Research and initial opinion on new draft Constitution by Council.
Contribution of items required by future legislation
4 Aug 2017 Preparation of case studies re WG emails. Compilation of legal opinion to
be published on MFNZ website
21 Sept 2017 Research on Proxy votes and opinion on matters raised by the WG $3,910.87
8 Nov 2017 AGM chairmanship including preparation $3,385.87

The Outcome
These legal investigations have found that no action or omission by the Council has, at any time, been in breach of our Constitution or the law. We are left somewhat poorer and battered by the experience. The Council has decided not to raise the subscriptions by the required $10 per person to recover the unplanned spend but to take the money from our reserves. We will look at other measures to manage the Association more economically so that we can continue to support members both as competitive teams and by helping clubs improve flying facilities.
The third item in the table is work related to supporting the Council prepared new draft Constitution to ensure that it is a legally robust document and whilst not directly initiated by WG action, it has been required because of the intense scrutiny the topic has attracted in some quarters.

Several members have been very angry that the Council has been challenged in this way and feel that action should be taken. Three formal complaints have been lodged. The new Constitution embodies a grievance and disputes procedure that can be used in such circumstances. It involves the Council appointing a separate body to investigate complaints. Those complained against have right to a fair hearing and then a decision must be made. The options are:
- To dismiss the complaint.
- To find justification in the complaint and send a letter of admonition to the parties.
- To suspend Association membership for the parties.
- To terminate Association membership for the parties.

It is unfortunate that we should begin the era of our new Constitution with a grievance resolution process but we must focus on the mutual objective of supporting the aeromodelling hobby within the rules of the Association. The Council is elected to manage the Association and must be allowed
to do so.

Jonathan Shorer
President, Model Flying New Zealand
November 2017

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