Club Management Focus: Winter 2012

Discipline and Constitutions

by Jeremy Dhondy

Best Behaviour at Bridge
No club wants to end up with a disciplinary case so has your club adopted BB&B? If so is your director clear on what is expected? The chances are that quite a few potential problems can be avoided if it is known that the director is friendly and fair but also not going to allow a player to intimidate or be rude to others.

Get your directors to look at Laws 81C, 90 and 91.

If, however, a player is not responsive to this then you may eventually need recourse to disciplinary procedures and this is where your constitution comes in.

What does your club constitution say about this topic?
The Laws & Ethics Committee have recently concluded a long and painful case where a club had expelled someone for bad behaviour and then denied him an appeal and eventually "allowed" it to go to the county as their constitution said this however they had never agreed this as a procedure with the county!! Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case it was unnecessarily painful because the club constitution was not right and their procedure wasn't right either. Many hours of the club committees time, the county's time and L&E time had gone on this and regrettably it is far from being unique. It is easily best to both have procedures and to follow them. After all if you really wish to get rid of a member who is ruining the game for others you do not want this to founder on getting the procedure wrong nor do you want to act unreasonably as inevitably this will cause other club members to have sympathy for his member(possibly completely undeserved)and a view that the committee is high handed.

Where can my club constitution be found?
I think there should be reasonably easy access to the club constitution and these days the website seems an obvious place for it.

If my club's constitution needs updating how do I go about this?
Constitutional matters are not very thrilling and they can be difficult to get right so as a service to affiliated clubs the EBU produces a model club constitution and all of our clubs are welcome to use this which can be found on the website ( as a starting point. You need disciplinary procedures where if there is a complaint some people will investigate it(usually called the conduct committee). Their job is to decide only if there is a case to answer. If there is then a separate disciplinary sub committee meets to decided on guilt or innocence and then punishment. An appeal procedure is required perhaps to a club appeal committee or the county if they agree. With luck this will have to be used every 20 years or less. If you do have an appeal committee they don't have to be members of your committee. They can be suitable paid up members who are not involved in any way in the case. Once you have suitable procedures you will usually have to have them approved at the AGM of your club.

But we are a friendly club.
Sometimes clubs say "but we are a friendly club" and hopefully they are so when it gets to the day when one member spoils the game for others they want to have a procedure for getting rid of him or her that does not breach either the law of the land or principles of natural justice and a little forethought can save the club much heartache and aggravation. The proper procedures can avoid a lot of nastiness and persuade club members that the club is acting a. for the best b. impartially and c. in the interests of the majority which, of course, it is.