Seventeen plaintiffs brought a claim against the defendant, the Rooty Hill and District Pigeon Racing Club Inc (the Club). The plaintiffs sought a declaration that each of them was a member of the Club, on the basis that (despite most of them not having been involved in the affairs of the Club nor having paid annual membership fees for many years) and an order invalidating the adoption in 2017 by the club of a new constitution.
The plaintiffs alleged that the rules of the Club contained express terms including, in particular, that “a person ceases to be a member of the association if the person – (a) dies; (b) resigns that membership; or (c) is expelled from the Association. The plaintiffs next alleged that each plaintiff became a member of the Club, and that each plaintiff had not died, resigned from membership nor been expelled: thereby remaining members of the Club (despite the non-payment of fees).
By its defence, the Club contended that, even if certain of the plaintiffs had at one time been members the Club, they had ceased to be members by reason of non-payment of membership fees, many years’ inactivity and non-involvement with the Club’s affairs.
Justice Robb dismissed all the claims, save for the first plaintiff’s, in a detailed judgment containing important insights into the law of incorporated associations, membership rights and abandonment of membership, noting () that: “it seems to be entirely logical that, when a member of an association has not resigned in compliance with the formalities contained in its constitution, but over a long period of time has by the member’s conduct sufficiently manifested an intention to cease being a member, that implied resignation or abandonment of membership should be effective, subject to contrary provisions in the constitution.”
Read the full judgement here.