What is the difference between an ordinary meeting and a special meeting?

There are several types of meetings. Most are called ordinary or regular meetings. Some are special meetings. Sometime the term extraordinary meeting is used. Then there are Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings.

Ordinary Meeting or Regular Meeting

Most meetings are ordinary or regular meetings. These are meetings which are held usually on a regular basis and conduct business for which no special notice needs to be given (according to the organisation’s rules or constitution). The monthly meeting of a sports club or a parents’ group  is are examples of regular meetings.

Special or extraordinary Meetings

A special meeting (sometimes called an extraordinary meeting)  can have two meanings. The first meaning is simply a meeting that is outside the regular timetable. This meaning tends to be simply a colloquial term that is used for something out of the ordinary.

It is usually called to discuss something important or unusual. This type of meeting usually requires no special notice but it is good governance to advise everyone who is eligible to attend, that the meeting is being held, and the purpose for it being held outside of the normal timetable – that is the topic of discussion.

The second type of special meeting is one that is defined in your organisation’s rules or constitution and has special requirements. These requirements may be length of notice for the meeting, it may be a special quorum (the number of people required for the meeting to transact business) or there may be other requirements written into your rules or constitution.

A special meeting may also have special voting requirements – for instance it may allow proxy votes.

The Annual General Meeting

This is the meeting which most organisation have once each year and the retirements are usually found in the rules or constitution, and also often in the legislation under which the organisation is constituted.

An Annual General Meeting (usually referred to as an AGM) will often have the reports of the major office bearers, consideration of the annual financial report, election of officers, adopting the budget for the next 12 months (which should include the membership fee if there is one) and also changes to the constitution.

AGM’s have special requirements in terms of the period of time for which notice of the meeting has to be given and often also, the nature on information that must be provided in advance – financial reports for instance.

The word “general” in the AGM means that anybody who is a member of the organisation is entitled to attend and vote in most cases.

The Special General Meeting

The Special General Meeting (SGM) is sometimes called an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). This meeting has exactly the same powers as an AGM and must meet all the same requirements such as a minimum period for notice of meeting.

Special General Meetings must have a specific purpose. The most common is to consider changes to the constitution. Another is consideration of the budget for larger organisations.

Rule of Thumb to Maintain Good Governance?

The rule of thumb is to know your constitution or rules. These should clearly describe when a special meeting can and should be held and the rules under which it must be held.

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.

22 Comments »

  1. avatar Tepora Wright Says:

    Do you have to table minutes of an ordinary meeting at a special meeting?

    Thanks

  2. avatar Kathy DeLoach Says:

    I am new to taking minutes. I have done three so far. Last night we did not have many people there, so it was announced it would be an “informational meeting”. I am not sure how to do the minutes.

  3. avatar Peter Junior Kalayen Says:

    I sometimes wonder what an urgent meeting will be categorize as.

  4. avatar Ray Steen Says:

    Is it correct that anyone can attend an ordinary meeting but can not participate. They may ask permission to speak if they wish.

  5. avatar Why Your Company Should Switch to Video Chat - Tech Maven Pro Says:

    […] employees often feel as though they are at a distance from the rest of the workplace happenings. Special meetings can be held on a regular basis for this population. They can discuss general company happenings, […]

  6. avatar Barbara Armitage Says:

    If the members want a general meeting to continue after it has been called to a close, can it continue with the same people present?

  7. avatar Rajesh Says:

    In case of Co-op. Hsg. Society,
    All Members can attend or only committee members will attend & discuss the agenda.

  8. avatar JOHN HOLLAND Says:

    Following an EGM does this have to be minuted and referred to at the AGM of the year raised?

  9. avatar clydus Says:

    If a moderator will not call a special meeting for urgent business, how can the member go around the moderator and call a special meeting

  10. avatar Shana Says:

    Excellent blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any forums that
    cover the same topics discussed in this article?

    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get advice from
    other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

    Thanks!

  11. avatar Jack Wharton Says:

    Can a decision passed at an AGM be discussed and changed at an EGM?

  12. avatar michael Says:

    where at leastt 5% of members of a membership nonprofit call for a special meeting by written signed demand describing the purpose or purposes for holding the meeting, what control exists to allow some purposes and not others ?

  13. avatar walktall Says:

    You can only discuss the issue for which the meeting was called and given notice.

  14. avatar walktall Says:

    Yes.
    An EGM has he same status as an AGM

  15. avatar walktall Says:

    Where are you based?

  16. avatar Leander Says:

    Could you tell me please if AGM Minutes should be kept in the same Minute Book as an Ordinary Meeting or should they be kept separate?

  17. avatar Alan Halcrow Says:

    Our golf clum AGM is this monday coming, 28/11/16, i feel we need to amend our constitution because our membership has dwindled from 350+ 20 yrs ago to less than 90 today. The issue is the emolluments to committee members for work carried out are no longer reflective to our income and membership. Can anybody help please?

  18. avatar liza Says:

    Can you provide an example of a Special Generaal Meeting?
    Thank u. Excellent blog BTW.

  19. avatar David Price Says:

    I have received a question from Liza:

    Can you provide an example of a Special General Meeting?

    A Special General Meeting has the same status as an Annual General Meeting. The key is the word “General” which essentially means that it is a meeting of all members or constituents. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is obviously held annually. A Special General Meeting (SGM) is held using exactly the same processes and notice requirements as an AGM, but is held between AGM’s. Technically, there is no limit to the number of SGM’s there can be (unless the rules of your organisation dictate it – I’ve never seen that by the way).

    The reason an SGM would be held could be any of the following:

    To consider changes to the constitution or rules;
    To consider a special resolution – such as granting a life membership, expelling a member, approving a special budget item etc;
    To receive an auditor’s report or a report or submission from another person or body or organisation.
    Usually and SGM is to consider rule changes but not always.

    An SGM is often also called an EGM – Extraordinary General Meeting. Nothing is different except for the name.

  20. avatar David Price Says:

    You need to firstly see if you have support in principle for what you propose. If you don’t, just enjoy your golf. If you do, then get some other smart people to work on re-wording the relevant parts of your constitution, go through the defined process to amend the constitution and put it to the vote at the next AGM (Annual General Meeting) or have SGM (Special General Meeting) to do it.

  21. avatar Lynda Grieve Says:

    When holding an AGM and an ordinary monthly meeting on the same day, which one comes first?

  22. avatar Pranav Says:

    Can you have multiple items on the agenda for a special general meeting?

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