Responding to dysfunctionality in a society

Cries for help NZLawyer is read by a wide variety of people, and I receive requests for advice to deal with a variety of issues. The following enquiry (edited to make it anonymous) is one worth sharing as it illustrates frustrations society members commonly experience: Like other situations you have addressed, our club is also facing internal problems, with a dysfunctional president who behaves inappropriately and acts without committee authority. We have tried to get him to “up his game,” but without success. We tried to requisition a special general meeting, following the processes under the constitution, but this requisition was ignored and not implemented by the president and secretary. During this time, the president obtained legal advice without reference to the committee, presumably at the society’s expense, about getting rid of some committee members (and presumably the society will be asked to pay for this advice). Now we are unclear as to who are the members of the committee. I have asked the Registrar’s office to investigate under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. Are there any avenues the committee can pursue to proceed with a special general meeting to let the society’s members deal with the issues and keep the society functioning? Do we have a legal right to access the membership list of the society? Should the committee all resign, leaving the society to wind up? The legal position On the facts given, and without access to the society’s constitution, it is difficult to give definitive advice on facts such as those just set out. However, there are some general principles and comments that can be made:...