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Court Quashes Exec Decision

Mar 01 2007 22:57
Ashley Brown
The Union Court has quashed its first decision, referring the elections complaint which removed the Returning Officer back to Exec.
The Court hear evidence

Tonight's meeting of Union Court declared the meeting of Executive on 22nd February as unconstitutional, because the committee was not quorate during the discussion and vote which opted to remove the Returning Officer. The decision has therefore been rendered invalid, with Exec meeting tomorrow to hear the complaint again. John Collins thanked Eric Lai for handling the situation fairly, stating that he was only let down by not being a big enough hack to meet the requirements of the constitution.

The Court reiterated several times that it did not believe members of the Executive had acted dishonestly or inappropriately, in fact they had taken every steps they could to ensure the hearing was fair. However, only five members took the decision as the defendant, John Collins, left the room - six members are required for quorum. For the non-hacks in the audience, quorum is the minimum number of people required to make a meeting valid.

Previous meetings have proceeded on the basis that as long as they start quorate and nobody explicitly challenges it, then it is OK to continue. This ruling puts a stop to that - even if quorum is not challenged explicitly, if it is shown that the meeting did not have the minimum number of people then any decisions taken are not valid.

The Court also concluded that it was inappropriate for a candidate to vote on the fate of their own returning officer, but that proposers and seconders were permitted to vote. This excludes a number of members of the executive from voting tomorrow, but does not reduce the numbers as far as previously feared.

Election results are unlikely to be released tomorrow, as there are a number of other complaints still outstanding unrelated to this issue.

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Discussion about “Court Quashes Exec Decision”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. cap   
Mar 02 2007 00:10

That ruling should cut the length of most council meetings down quite considerably if anything like my day ;)

2. Ugh   
Mar 02 2007 00:22

Seems to me Court is trying to mark its territory, p***ing in the constitution to warn off competitors (exec).

3. Seb   
Mar 02 2007 02:45

Oh yes, because that is what the Court wants to do: take over the Union. I personally *really* enjoy being dragged on a three hour, 120 mile return journey to sit for hours supervising a squabble. It gives me a sense of power and naturally it's where I derive my sense of self worth that I would otherwise lack </sarcasm>

The court is here to be independent. And we are. If court members wanted to run the Union, they would be active hacks, not ex-hacks taking up a position that actually more or less bans us from partaking in the rest of student politics.

The court can't actually initiate anything, it has to wait for people to call it, and frankly I for one could do with longer periods of waiting. Once called, it acts within a tight remit, and has acted entirely within the constitution. Feel free to point out where precisely where the court has p***ed in it.

Exec is *not* our competition. If the court really wanted to "mark its territory", it might have decided it was being called in it's capacity as ultimate appeal body for elections and taken over running the lot, or re-instated the old RO, or appointed an entirely new RO and election committee, ordered it re-run... but actually all we have said is:

"Okay, everyone was trying to operate in the best way possible, and felt it important to close the issue rapidly so as not to affect the elections, but this procedure sets a bad precedent for how to deal with this sort of election problem (at any level of the union) that could be wide open for abuse in future if left to stand. It's not for us to decide whether the decision to remove the RO was the correct one to make, that should be re-considered by Exec following a slightly modified procedure, now go away and do it."

Given the potentialy sweeping powers of the Court once activated, if we had been playing politics and marking territory we could have done a lot, lot more than merely ask Exec to consider it again whilst fully quorate.

Ultimately, this could have been dealt with wihtout an appeal to court. Exec could have re-considered the meeting in a better fashion, an appeal could have been made to council as the ultimate Supervising Authority.

4. err   
Mar 02 2007 10:41

so results are announced when?

5. hmm   
Mar 02 2007 10:43

When the other three election complaints have been dealy with!

Mar 02 2007 11:05

Exec will meet today to deal with the complaint that this re-opened. There are two other complaints still outstanding which require CCTV footage...

Mar 02 2007 11:10

Seb - Didn't someone mentioned that Eric did ask to recall Exec on Friday last week? And John Collins said accroding to Eric: "I will see you in Court."

So don't make out that exec or Eric did not try to deal with this issue without an appeal, it was to my opinion, someone trying to use Court as a reason to delay an election process.

Correct my recollection if I am wrong.

Mar 02 2007 11:37

Insider: I don't believe Seb ever suggested that Exec/Eric did not try to deal with the matter - they did. It is simply unfortunate that the proceedure they used (in good faith) was severely flawed.

Mar 02 2007 12:05

"someone trying to use Court as a reason to delay an election process."

Yes, because that's what John/Jad/etc like to do with their lives. Spend hours unneccessarily delaying elections processes, just for a laugh and a power-kick. Especially when it means they have to leave important London-wide meetings early, for yet another long and stressful evening in Beit. That's their absolute favourite.

10. Seb   
Mar 02 2007 12:12

Insider: That is indeed my recollection of the evidence presented.

And what was our interim determination? Bar some clarification to procedures that should be followed, we sent it back for Exec to consider.

It is not for the court to comment on the motivation of why it was brought to Court. It isn't important once we have decided that we are going to consider the claim. There were a few issues that it was important to consider, the procedure taken, which while probably was fine given the people involved, but if allowed to be the standard way to do things would leave (e.g. FU or CSC or off campus elections) potentialy wide open to corruption. The only other issue was quoracy which is a bad practice and has reached epidemic proportions through out the union and has been for some time to the point where people commonly understand the quoracy rules to mean something they just don't mean)

Utlimately, these issues could have been dealt with by the people bringing the paper asking merely for a general constitutional interpretation on the procedures for sacking an RO, and then recalling exec to reconsider the issue, then appealing to council, and then appealing to us.

The more involved we get, I feel, the more legitimacy we lose. I'd prefer not to have had to quash an exec meeting.

Simon Mathews expresses my views concisely.

Mar 02 2007 12:33

So a certain Court Member's past actions - - should not have been neccessary after all!

Mar 02 2007 13:01

"Democracy descends towards farce,"

"Most people expressed amazement that the meeting was so poorly structured and organised,"

"This is, to put it mildly, a mis-representation of the situation"

"And to call a "decision" by 15 members of a body that i assume should contain 60 or more a "decision" at all, is well... cr?p"

"We could have a melt down. or we could draw the line."

"yet another rule broken... ho hum"

"While I appreciate that everyone there on Tuesday tried to make the best out of a less than ideal situation, we owe it to our members to provide them with better example of democracy than was given at this week?s Council. Feel free to disagree with me if you wish..."

13. Seb   
Mar 02 2007 13:25

Yes... I remember that one...

I wasn't chuffed with the fact that quorum was called either. But it does highlight how long and badly the quorum rule has been missapplied.

Realisiticaly, the meeting should have been declared inquorate hours before. Having it declared at that point and so close to a decision being made largely an agreement between the then two big block votes that both wold ensure that neither faction gobbled up a chunk of next years budget, was obviously very frustrating and most of the stuff on that board refelcts that. And it was the last council of the year...

Katherine was right in principle to call quorum. Council clearly wasn't functioning as a collective body, and after five hours and close to midnight, neither were many of it's remaining members.

Anyway, if anything that example is a classic highlight of just how important it is for the Quorum rule *not* be treated as an optional tactical extra for those with sufficient hack prowess and a thesaurus with synonyms that do not involve the letter q.

Mar 02 2007 13:52

Good to see quorum coming back into fashion. I thought it was dead when Andy Heeps pulled his fantastic "I deem everybody in this building to be at the meeting" trick.

15. So...   
Mar 02 2007 14:59

Has exec remet yet? Or was it scheduled for evening rather than lunchtime? Or was it inquorate again?

16. Hack   
Mar 02 2007 15:03

I gather that the path has been cleared regarding the above.

Hopefully all that is now needed is for the candidates to either sign their documents saying that the election was free and fair (etc.) or pull out of the election.

I **think** I'm right in saying that this is all that stands in the way of the results?

17. nope   
Mar 02 2007 15:27

There is one further unresolved complaint.

Mar 02 2007 17:55

The full Court determination has been added to this article.

Mar 05 2007 08:02

I heard my name being bandied around. I don't care about that. But what the f**k is this "Court" bollocks? Hamish, I love you dearly, but playing at Lord Chief Justice with ICU is just *so* beneath you...

Mar 05 2007 09:52

Ha ha ha! That's amazing! For some reason it had never actually triggered in my mind the images that the word "Court" conjured up.

I can really imagine tose guys in robes. Especially since its the only upper Union meeting I've ever been to where the committee sit facing you, instead of round a table or something.

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