Parliamentary procedure is a body of rules, ethics and customs used to govern meetings of organizations, legislative bodies, clubs and other deliberative assemblies. As discussed below, a homeowners association’s adherence to a system of parliamentary procedure is a legal requirement solely in the context of membership meetings. (Civ. Code § 5000(a).)
Robert’s Rules of Order
The most widely adopted system of parliamentary procedure by private organizations is Robert’s Rules of Order (“Robert’s Rules”). Robert’s Rules was first published in 1876 by U.S. Army Colonel Henry Martyn Robert and is currently in its eleventh edition. Robert’s Rules and related resources may be found online.
Board Meetings & Committee Meetings
There is no statutory requirement that an association’s board meetings or committee meetings be conducted in accordance with a system of parliamentary procedure such as Robert’s Rules. Associations typically refrain from doing so in order to avoid onerous and unreasonable formalities (i.e., requiring directors to “obtain the floor” before making motions or speaking). Boards and committees typically utilize more flexible procedures, unless otherwise required by the association’s governing documents.
Adhering to a system of parliamentary procedure often only becomes a legal necessity in the context of an association’s membership meetings:
“Meetings of the membership of the association shall be conducted in accordance with a recognized system of parliamentary procedure or any parliamentary procedures the association may adopt.” (Civ. Code § 5000(a).)
While there are various systems of parliamentary procedure which may be utilized by an association, Robert’s Rules is the most common.