The Society's By-Laws and Rules

Proposed changes to The Society's By-Laws and Rules

The July RPS Journal carried a report that The Society was proposing to update its By-Laws and Rules through a vote to be taken at the Annual General Meeting being held on 30 September 2017. 

The final version of the revised, By-Laws and Rules, which are to be voted up can be found on the adjacent links. If approved, they will come into effect immediately although some aspects, for example, those dealing with Council elections will only apply when the next elections are held in 2019.

The drafts are based, in part, on the recommendations contained in the Review of Society Governance: 2016, extensive trustees’ discussions and review, and consultations with the Society's Advisory Board. Some of the Governance Committee's recommendations were revised or rejected by the trustees. The final versions of the By-Laws and Rules have been through several reviews and drafts by the Society’s trustees and its lawyers.

The key changes to note are:

  • Provision for electronic voting and communication, which will bring The Society into line with other comparable organisations.  This will bring significant cost-savings and is likely to encourage more members to participate in the election process, both nominations and voting.

  • An increase the length of service of the Trustees to four years with staggered terms.  This is intended to ensure a smoother transition between Council terms. 

  • Establishing a Representatives Committee to replace the existing Advisory Board.  This will comprise members from the Special Interest Groups, the Regions and the other Standing Committees (see below).  The objective is to strengthen the working relationship between the different parts of The Society and Council.  Alongside this is formalising the position of Society committees.

  • To introduce the position of President-Elect which will replace the current role of Vice-President.  This will not only remove any uncertainties over succession but will also ensure that the incoming President is better prepared for their future role.

  • An increase in the minimum number of members needed to call for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to ensure that only those issues commanding reasonable support can be brought to an EGM.

  • The opening of co-options to Council to any Society member

Following questions from members on a number of areas the following FAQs explain some of the background to some of the proposed changes. 


What is the Representatives Committee?

The current Advisory Board has not worked successfully in performing its role of advising the trustees. The Representatives Committee replaces the Advisory Board with a small group, more widely representing the different areas of the Society. Separate forums for the Group chairs and Regional Organisers will be continue to be held separately - these are widely acknowledged to be useful for those participating. The Groups and Regions will also participate in the Reps Committee. 

The Representatives Committee will be structured as below. The trustees consider that smaller body, in control of its own agenda and appointing its own chair, and bringing in representatives from other key areas of the Society such as Distinctions and the standing committees, will be more effective in advising Council than the present Advisory Board which numbers more than 40 representatives. The separate Regional Organiser and Group chair meetings will continue to meet separately. 





The members of the Representatives Committee will nominate the chair, whose appointment will be ratified by Council. The role will not be filled by the President.


Regional reps

Nominated by the Regional Organisers and filled from the Regional Organisers                              


Special Interest Group reps

Nominated by the Special Interest Group Chairs, and filled from the Group Chairs                      


Overseas member representative

Appointed by Council in consultation with the Society’s Chapters          


Committee Chairs

Awards, Distinctions, Finance, Education, Science


Co-opted members

Maximum of 3


Non-voting attendees

Volunteer Coordinator (to provide a link with staff), and PAGB representative (maintaining historical link)


Total possible attendance:


Why bring in rotation of trustees?

Although the Governance Review counselled against trustee rotation Council considered that rotation of trustees would provide continuity of experience and would therefore be of benefit to the Society. The attached table shows how this would work. 

Why change the quorum needed for an EGM?

Currently 20 members are needed to call an EGM. This is a very small number (0.17 per cent) for a Society with nearly 11,700 members and it potentially means that an EGM could be called over matters of limited concern to the wider membership. Many organisations require 2 per cent or more to call an EGM. Council consider 200 members (approx 1.7 per cent) to be an appropriate number. If in issue was of such importance that it required an EGM then 200 members should be an achieveable number. 

Is electronic voting secure?

The trustees will ensure that electronic election nominations and voting is secure before it is introduced. Many members will have used systems to vote electronicly in company or building society AGMs and there are several systems on the market that would fit the Society's needs. Members who are not users of the internet will be provided an alternative method of voting. The intention is that introducing electronic nomination and voting should support greater engagement by members in the process of electing trustees. 

Why can't members vote on each change individually?

The trustees considered this extensively. Some changes could be easily separated but other aspects such as the Representatives Committee were more complex and a situation could arise where one part could be accepted and then conflict with another part of the By-laws and Rules. Trying to accomodate all the various permutations was felt to be too complex. The changes are, therefore, being presented as a single resolution. If a member disagrees strong with any change then they should vote against adopting the new By-laws and Rules.

Next steps

The detailed implementation of the By-laws and Rules will be made, as now, through the Society’s Management Procedural documents. These will be published following their approval by the trustees if the new By-Laws and Rules are adopted by the membership.

In terms of timelines: the August Journal will contain the formal AGM agenda which will include a resolution to adopt the proposed By-Laws and Rules.

If you have any comment or questions please contact me so that they may be answered and passed to the trustees. 

Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS
Director of Education and Public Affairs
The Royal Photographic Society

t: 0117 3164474