The Guild’s management Council has committed itself to reviewing the whole organisation’s constitution and legal entity, following anomalies identified during planning for the IFAJ Congress 2014.
“It’s the size of the event itself that has triggered a review of the Guild’s structure and legal identity,” explains Guild chairman Adrian Bell. “The financial sums involved in hosting Congress will run into six figures, albeit at no cost to the Guild itself as funding will be covered by sponsorship and delegate fees. But clearly there’s a huge financial responsibility involved in handling these large sums.
“We set out to make sure we found the best way to protect the money being paid by delegates and sponsors,” Adrian notes. “But in so doing, we discovered that the Guild itself has no entity in law and that as a standard membership organisation, it would be the officers on Council who could be legally liable if any financial problems transpired.
“Digging a little deeper, we also discovered that the current set of Guild rules – although updated from time-to-time at our AGMs – lacks several key elements relating to good practice in finance and management.”
Plans were already afoot to establish a limited company to handle the funds and act as a legal entity for the 2014 Congress, but when these other omissions came to light it became necessary to change tack.
Now, with valuable assistance from Alick Jones of Harvest Lunch sponsor Lloyds TSB Agriculture, the Guild’s executive officers – Adrian Bell, deputy chairman Jane Craigie and treasurer Tim Price – will be reviewing and shortlisting the best options for the Guild’s future. That will necessitate drawing up a draft constitution, which will be discussed at the December management meeting before being put to a vote at the March AGM.
“If, as seems likely, we take the route of establishing the Guild as a limited company without share capital, then the constitution will take the form of a set of Articles of Association for the new company, together with a set of Rules governing the membership matters.
“It’s a sizeable task to take on, particularly given the workload presented by the IFAJ Congress, but Council has agreed that it’s an essential step to take. Time spent now will allow us to safeguard the Guild, its officers and members against problems arising from the ever-larger sums of money we’re handling, and also streamline the management of the Guild to ensure its continued growth and success.”
Adrian and the Council are keen to hear from members who have any comments on the plans, or who can offer advice or services to assist the review and eventual transition.