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Community Title Scheme - Fraudulent Proxies used at an AGM

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by qonyx_sydney, 18th Aug, 2016.

  1. qonyx_sydney

    qonyx_sydney Well-Known Member

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    Hello,

    The background is that I live in a community title estate (shared pool, BBQ, tennis courts) which operates very to Strata Title - except owners own their house/land. We have a maniacal resident with aspirations to become the president of the executive committee, who resorts to bullying tactics with those not on his side to drive his own personal agenda.

    One of the crazy things this person has done is forge one of the proxy votes which was detected by the existing committee and proven as the victim of the fraudulent proxy confirmed he did not sign the proxy. Obviously this raises concerns on the authenticity of the remaining proxies.

    The company that manages our community title have said that they will ignore this specific proxy but will not investigate the authenticity of all proxies.The police also got involved, however advised that their powers were limited in resolving this type of dispute.

    Can anyone advise if there would be any avenue available that could be used to investigate the proxies submitted or if anyone has had any past prior experience with a similar issue that that may be able to share?

    Thanks again,
    Q
     
  2. JDM

    JDM Well-Known Member

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    What State is this?
     
  3. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Fair trading may be your first inquiry.
     
  4. Matthew Savage

    Matthew Savage Active Member

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    It's hard to give advice without knowing the state - but I assume it's NSW?

    I'm a body corporate manager in QLD - my first port of call would be to look at how the proxies have been submitted (by mail/email/in person, and by whom). In QLD proxies and voting papers need to be submitted directly to the secretary or body corporate manager, so if they all were delivered by the one resident (who is not the secretary) then I would normally advise the chairperson to reject the votes/proxies as being improperly submitted. I'm not sure if your state has a similar rule, but worth asking.

    Otherwise the committee could contact each person who supposedly assigned a proxy for confirmation. The committee has an obligation to do that as they are calling the shots, more so than the body corporate manager.
     
  5. qonyx_sydney

    qonyx_sydney Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies, yes we are in NSW. Our committee (of which i am not part) has requested the managers to validate the proxies however they are refusing to do so, so you can imagine we are in a bit of a pickle.

    Matt: From your experience does the executive committee have the right to reject the proxies or even request confirmation from owners? From previous experience our corporate manager has not refused to provide contact details of residents.
     
  6. Matthew Savage

    Matthew Savage Active Member

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    I'm not sure on the exact rules for NSW, but the committee is the authority in that situation. There would be no specific rule about what to do, but all committees are required to act reasonably, if there is a reasonable doubt as to the legitimacy of those proxies, I think it would be reasonable for the committee to reject the other proxies held by that one person, and even push the meeting/resolution back until they are satisfied that the proxies are legit.

    The committee is the holder of the records, so the body corporate manager cannot refuse to provide contact details to them.
     
  7. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

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    I like your approach but we don't have that restriction in NSW.

    Q you should probably consider getting yourself on the Committee because you seem willing to try to help, and that's what Committee members need to be prepared to do.

    It would be worth understanding why the existing agent doesn't want to perform the requested task. If it's simply contacting those Lot Owners who were represented as having given proxies, to ask whether they did so or not, and make a record of the results of those inquiries - that would seem to be a reasonable task to undertake, and would usually by paid by the CA to agent as additional services (not normal work). It takes away donkey work from volunteer committee members who shouldn't have to do it, and would be cheaper than paying a lawyer to conduct a preliminary investigation.

    Having said that, perhaps the agent is concerned about legal risk, or about getting drawn into politics when they need to preserve independence - both of which are reasonable - but an inquiry of facts should probably not be such a concern. In any case, I think the Committee should engage a specialist Strata / Community lawyer to i) advise the EC and secretary formally of how dubious proxies should be handled, and ii) probably issue a scary letter outlining legal consequences of fraudulently signing or obtaining proxies.

    That nonsense needs to be stopped. You can't function effectively if people are breaking the rules.
     
  8. JDM

    JDM Well-Known Member

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    Submit a motion to be considered at the next general meeting that requires an audit of the proxy votes from the vote in question. Yes, it is possible the motion will be struck down by false proxies again but this just gives you further evidence of the fraud if this is the case.