Meeting minutes can very occasionally turn up in the law courts.
They can be used as evidence, for instance if someone should challenge the validity of certain actions.
The key principle to understand is that of liability. Meeting minutes shift the liability for the actions undertaken from the individual to the group. The group becomes corporately liable for actions rather than the individuals who do them.
So while few meetings have the potential for legal challenges later on, most meetings do need to demonstrate that the decisions made were on behalf of the group.
What are the legal requirements for meeting minutes and what should they include?
At a minimum, meeting minutes should indicate:
- the fact that prior notice of the meeting was given,
- names of those in attendance,
- the presence of a quorum,
- official actions taken by meeting participants
- Not documenting whether the meeting was quorate (enough people to make valid decisions on behalf of the group). If in doubt, then read: Do meetings have to be quorate?
- Not being clear about actions
- Trying to transcript everything that is said.
- Waiting too long to circulate the minutes, so people don’t see mistakes quickly enough
- Waiting too long to approve the minutes, again reducing the chance that mistakes are caught and corrected
- Not maintaining a decent document management system, so you lose minutes of previous meetings.