Judge rules against Isis Club
A DECISION by the committee of the Isis Club to expel a member has been declared void after an appeal to the Supreme Court
. In a judgment handed down by Judge Duncan McMeekin the decision by the committee to terminate Lorraine Gould's membership was set aside.
Judge McMeekin said Ms Gould had contended the club failed to accord her natural justice in the processes that were followed leading to the termination of her membership.
He said the essential issue was whether Ms Gould was given a full and fair opportunity to show why her membership should not be terminated.
Ms Gould was a member of the management committee of the club from September 2011 to October 2014, and served part of that time as treasurer.
On February 20 this year the committee wrote to Ms Gould that there had been "much debate and consternation over your behaviour prior to, during and after the recent Annual General Meeting", and ended her membership.
Ms Gould wrote back and asked for the evidence on which the decision was based.
The committee responded that in October last year Ms Gould made a decision to end the membership of four people at the club without giving them a good reason.
The committee also included two extra pages with 11 dot points making allegations about Ms Gould's conduct.
However, in correspondence with the committee Ms Gould denied all the allegations.
Judge McMeekin said Ms Gould was not given any proper notice of the charge she faced.
"The description given - 'much debate and consternation over your behaviour prior to, during and after the recent Annual General Meeting' - was completely opaque as to the behaviour that so concerned the committee," he said.
"Ms Gould could not have mounted defence of her conduct without knowing what the complaint was she had to meet."
Judge McMeekin said Ms Gould was also allowed only a very short time to prepare her defence.
"It is fundamental that a club member have an adequate time to prepare themselves to meet the charges brought," he said.
Ms Gould was only given six days to prepare a defence, and Judge McMeekin could not accept that was enough.
"Expelling Ms Gould from the club will certainly involve some personal disgrace in the community," he said.
"Whether any defence she may have mounted could have brought about a different result is more problematic."
He said he was not satisfied Ms Gould had been given natural justice in this case.