What Is a Point of Order?

Point of Order / Points of Order

A point of order is an incidental motion used during meetings to address rule violations. This motion is used to ensure that each member follows the established guidelines to keep meetings on track.

Points of order can interrupt the speaker, do not require a second and cannot be debated or amended. It is up to the chair to consider it valid or invalid.

When to raise a point of order?

Common scenarios for raising a point of order include:

  • Breaches of rules or procedures: When there is a violation of the established meeting etiquette or procedures, such as a member speaking without being recognised by the chair.
  • Inappropriate conduct or language: When a member engages in disrespectful behaviour, such as passing personal remarks, or uses language that is deemed inappropriate.
  • Misunderstandings or misapplications of procedures: When there is confusion regarding the application of meeting procedures, such as questioning the relevance of an amendment to the main motion.

Procedure for raising a point of order

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, a member must consider the following while raising a point of order:

  • Timing: A point of order should be raised as soon as you witness a breach of rules or code of conduct. Delaying could lead to further disruption and complicate the process of addressing the issue.
  • Phrasing: You should clearly state “I rise to a point of order” or simply “Point of order” to signal your intention to raise a procedural concern.
  • Addressing the chair directly: It’s important to refer to the chair while raising a point of order, not the member responsible for the breach.

Role of the chair

The chair plays a crucial role in handling points of order. When a member raises a point of order, the chair must recognise them and ask them to state their point. After listening to the concern raised, the chair can either rule it as valid or invalid and proceed accordingly. In some instances, if the chair is conflicted on the point raised, they may call for a quick vote.

Potential outcomes of a valid point of order

If the chair recognises the validity of the point of order, the following outcomes can occur:

  • Correction of the breach: The chair may fix the error or instruct the members to rectify the inappropriate conduct. For example, if a motion proceeds without a second, the chair will rectify this breach by ruling the motion out of order until it is seconded.
  • Amendment of procedures or actions: If a member raises a point to use a ballot vote for anonymity instead of a show of hands, the chair may modify the procedure to ensure compliance with the byelaws.
  • Continuation of the meeting: If a member raises the point that a speaker has had the floor for longer than the designated time, the chair may instruct the speaker to wrap up and continue with the next order of business.
  • Enforcement: In cases of repeated or serious violations, the chair may enforce certain consequences. This can include removing the member from the meeting or imposing fines on them.

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