Expulsion or suspension of membership
Check the association's rules to see whether the grounds and the procedure for expulsion or suspension are set out. If both grounds and procedure are stated, follow the rules. Where no grounds are stated in the rules, an example of a ground for expelling or suspending a member is 'conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the association'. If there is no procedure, or the procedure is not set out in detail, expulsion or suspension are still possible, but the rules of natural justice must always be observed.
Overturning an expulsion or suspension of membership
Check the rules to see whether the grounds used for expulsion or suspension are appropriate and whether the correct procedure has been followed. Check whether the rules of natural justice have been followed. If not, the matter may be re-opened within the association.
Even if the rules were followed, it is still possible that the expulsion was oppressive or unreasonable. Or it may be that the constitution itself is oppressive or unreasonable. In these cases court action could be taken to overturn a decision or to alter the association's constitution. The minor civil action jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court has power to hear these matters. As this is a relatively inexpensive and informal jurisdiction, it is worth considering making an application in appropriate cases. On the other hand, mediation is a free and often effective means of dispute resolution.
Allegations that the committee is not acting properly
It is usually best to attempt to define any problems and address them openly, always observing the rules of natural justice. If this does not work, mediation is often an effective solution. Check the rules for any procedures that can be used to deal with the problem, such as calling a special general meeting of all members so that the matter can be resolved or discussed. If oppressive, unreasonable, unfairly prejudicial or unfairly discriminatory circumstances exist, court action is possible, either through the minor civil jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court or the Supreme Court. See DISPUTES.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.