Can the president (or chair) move a motion at a meeting?

Andrea from Koroop in Victoria, Australia has asked:  ”Can the president move a motion at a meeting? What law is this held under?”

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that a wise chair will only move certain motions from the chair.

The only motions a president or person in the chair should move are motions of congratulations or motions of condolence or motions of thanks. These are nearly always “carried by acclamation” with the obvious exception of the motion of condolence. These are often carried without a seconder.

Inexperienced or “power chairs” sometimes move all sorts of motions and in so doing demonstrate their lack of understanding of their role.

Procedural motions should never be moved from the chair. For instance, a motion seeking to close debate, when moved from the chair, takes away all impartiality – the cornerstone of the chair’s authority.

Substantive or main motions can be moved from the chair technically, but a wise chair will not – they will invite a members to move the motion.

A chair may suggest that it would be appropriate for a particular motion (procedural or substantive) to be moved but encourage someone else to move it. They may even suggest the wording.

The minute a chair moves a motion from the chair, they have “declared their hand” and their impartiality goes out the window. They therefore cannot, with integrity, preside over the discussion which follows and their major role is to fairly and impartially preside.

Andrea also asks – What law this is held under?

There is no law as such, it is custom and good governance. Most meeting procedure authorities agree that the presiding person should not move motions from the chair.

Please Note: The author accepts no responsibility for anything which occurs directly or indirectly as a result of using any of the suggestions or procedures detailed in this blog. All suggestions and procedures are provided in good faith as general guidelines only and should be used in conjunction with relevant legislation, constitutions, rules, laws, by-laws, and with reasonable judgement.


Related posts:

  1. Procedural motion or formal motion? Which term to use. The terms “formal motion” and “procedural motion” mean exactly yhe same thing. They are motions which act upon the processes or predured being followed in the meeting. They are about the running of the meeting. The problem occurs when people...
  2. Vacating the chair to make a presentation Karen from Doubleview in Western Australia has asked about the protocol when vacating the chair to make a presentation. Presiding over a meeting as the chair or chairman or chairperson is a role not a physical position. So if in...
  3. Does a motion need to be seconded? This question is common and the answer is fairly simple. In Australia and New Zealand it is custom to have every motion seconded. Whether it is a requirement however depends on your constitution or governing rules. If your governing rules...
  4. Main motion or substantive motion? Which term to use. The term “substantive motion” has been around for a long time and is the term most Australian authorities use. The term “main motion” is used in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, (RONR) the main authority in the USA. The...
  5. Rescinding motions – Some tricky things to know In a reply to my post about rescission motions, Jason from Victoria has added some really good comments. Thanks Jason. Jason says: “in some cases, recission motions are not valid for a period of time after the substantive motion has...

6 Comments »

  1. avatar JUANITA Says:

    My understanding is this: A person (secretary or treasurer) cannot move that the report they have just presented be ccepted. Please let me know of the proper procedure.

    thanks

  2. avatar JUANITA Says:

    My understanding is this: A person (secretary or treasurer) cannot move that the report they have just presented be accepted. Please let me know of the proper procedure.

    thanks

  3. avatar Ian Robertson Says:

    In my experience it is common practice for the presenter of a report to a meeting, at the the end of discussions then says ” I move that the report be accepted”. It is then seconded by another person and put to the vote.

    For example, this procedure is followed by the Treasurer of our Probus Club when he presents the current financial status at the monthly general of members.

  4. avatar Claire Frey Says:

    As president of my condo, I made a motion to approve the upcoming budget. At our last meeting, I was challenged to say that I should not have made that motion. It was approved.

    Is there a corrective action I can do?

    Thank you.

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