The ABC’s of taking minutes at sectional title meetings

Aside from the fact that the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (STSMA) requires bodies corporate to keep minutes of all meetings, it is also good governance to keep comprehensive minutes of meetings for the purpose of record keeping and reference.
 

In terms of Prescribed Management Rule (PMR) 27 of the STSM Act, governance documents and records must be kept. PMR 27(2) specifically references minutes of meetings as follows:

 

PMR 27(2) – The body corporate records must include:
(a) minutes of all meetings with: –
(i) date, time, and place.
(ii) names and roles of those present, including details of the authorisations.
(iii) text of all resolutions; and
(iv) results of all voting.

What is of interest, but not explicitly defined in the STSMA, is the discussions that occur under each agenda item. This raises the question: What constitutes proper minute taking?

 

The ABCs of taking minutes
Effective minutes should be:
(1) Accurate
(2) Brief
(3) Clear

 

 

ACCURATE: What is the purpose of meeting minutes?

 

Don’t be intimidated by the term minutes. It’s actually a bit misleading as you don’t need a record of the meeting proceedings minute by minute! However, it is important to capture the essence of the meeting accurately, reflecting the outcomes in quorum and voting requirements in number and value.
Minutes are a tangible record of the meeting and a source of information for those who were unable to attend. In some cases, meeting minutes can act as a reference point, for example:

  • When a meeting’s outcomes impact other collaborative activities or resolutions within the body corporate or materially effects any member.
  • Minutes can serve to notify (or remind) individuals of tasks assigned to them or relevant timelines.
 

BRIEF: Record taking – what should be included?

 

 

Before you start taking notes, it’s important to understand the type of information that should be recorded at each meeting. Generally, meeting minutes should include the following information:

 

  • Date and time of the meeting
  • Names of the meeting participants, including those attending via proxy as well as those unable to attend
  • Acceptance or corrections/amendments to previous meeting minutes;

Decisions made about each agenda item, for example:

 

  • Summary of discussion
  • Resolutions taken with a full and proper wording having applied our minds
  • Voting outcomes in number and value
  • Action items (who, is to do what, by when)
  • Next meeting date and time
 

CLEAR: Why being objective is important


Clarity is important as you do not want the minutes to be open for interpretation. Write clearly, in simple language and keep your sentences succinct. Try to stick to the following guidelines:

  • Minutes must be brief and easy to read
  • Write in the same tense throughout the document
  • Avoid using people’s names – this is a governance record of the meeting, not about who said what
  • Avoid personal or inflammatory observations – the fewer adjectives or adverbs you use, the better
  • If you need to refer to other documents, attach those in an appendix or indicate where they may be found – don’t rewrite their intent or try to summarise.
 

The process of taking minutes


Once the meeting is over, put together your notes and write the minutes. Here are some tips that might help:

 

  • Try to write the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting so that everything is still fresh in your mind. Remember that, according to the STSMA, minutes must be distributed to members within seven days of the meeting
  • Review your outline and if necessary, add additional notes or clarify points raised. Also ensure that all the decisions, actions and resolutions are clearly noted
  • Check for sufficient detail
  • Include a short statement of each resolution taken, and a brief explanation of the rationale for the decision
  • Where there was extensive deliberation before passing a resolution, summarise the key arguments
  • Review your work, and edit it, to ensure brevity and clarity
 

5 Tips for efficient note taking:

 

  1. Create an outline by using the agenda. Having an outline will make it easy for you to simply jot down notes, decisions/resolutions, etc. under each item as the meeting progresses. If you are taking notes by hand, consider including space below each item on your outline for your hand-written notes, then use it to capture minutes.
  2. Check off attendees as they enter the meeting. If you know the meeting attendees, you can check them off as they arrive; if not, have attendees introduce themselves at the start of the meeting, rename themselves on MS Teams or Zoom, or use a digital attendance register where they may check themselves in.
  3. Record decisions/resolutions and notes on action items in your outline as soon as they occur to ensure accurate record keeping and ask for clarification if necessary.
  4. Don’t try to capture it all. You will never keep up if you try to write down the entire conversation verbatim. Your goal is to simply and clearly record only the decisions/resolutions, actions, etc.
  5. Record it – literally. If you are concerned about not being able to keep up with note taking, record the meeting on your smart phone, tablet, or a recording device – but be sure to let participants know they are being recorded. While you don’t want to use the recording to create a word-for-word transcript of the meeting, the recording can come in handy if you need clarification.