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Byelaws review update

Fellows will be familiar with the ongoing byelaws review. As a reminder, the review was instigated in 2022 to modernise the governance of the Society, ensure we follow best practice as set out by the Charity Commission and that we fulfil all our legal obligations

24 May 2023

The byelaws review working group (L to R): Simon Thompson, Neal Marriott, David Norbury, Dave Jones (on screen), Jessica Smith (project Chair), Ruth Allington, Martin Griffin. Missing from the photograph: Richard Hughes.

The byelaws working group has continued to make solid progress over the winter months, in particular:

  • Workshops have been held with Council members to more fully understand their motivation for volunteering and any ideas they have for governance reform.
  • An advisory group has been established and is providing valuable input during the re-drafting process.
  • Contact has been made with the Privy Council Office in relation to including the Royal Charter in the review (see below for details).
  • Discussions have been held with other organisations that have either amended their byelaws, or that operate under different governance structures, to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of different models.
  • It is planned to seek advice from external sources with expertise in charity governance.

Most importantly, Council considered progress at its meeting on 1 February 2023 and agreed that to move the review forward in the most effective manner, the Royal Charter should be included in it. They agreed an amendment to the terms of reference. 

Our current Charter dates back to 1825 and, with the exception of a limited amendment in 2006, has remained unchanged since. The Charter is the primary instrument of our governance, from which the byelaws are derived, but it is out of line with current best practice. Furthermore, its style and language are opaque and do not paint a picture of a modern, forward-looking Society.

The inclusion of the review of the Royal Charter may slow progress a little and a full Fellowship consultation is not now likely in the first half of 2024. A full update on the review will be provided at the Society’s AGM scheduled for Wednesday 14 June 2023.

To see the revised terms of reference, visit: www.geolsoc.org.uk/about/governance/bye-laws/2022-bye-laws-review.

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