Robert's Rules, 12th Ed.
A Legal Moment

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised is, um, Newly Revised

   The Venerated Resource Gets a Modest Makeover on its 50th Anniversary

   Just when you think there’s nothing new and exciting going on in the world, up pops the publication of a new edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised!

    It is the 12th edition to be exact, and it is the first new edition in nearly a decade.

   For the uninitiated, Robert’s Rules is the definitive authority on parliamentary procedure in how meetings should be run, including those of community associations. 

   Robert’s Rules are so ubiquitous and authoritative that one frequently finds a provision buried in restrictive covenants dictating that all association meetings will be governed not just by Robert’s Rules generally, but the most recent edition of them.  Still more impressively, two North Carolina statutes ‒ one applying to condominium associations, and one applying to homeowner associations ‒ also provide that board and membership meetings of the association shall be governed by “the most recent edition” of Robert’s Rules.

   So, what does that mean for you?  Technically, it means it is time to purchase the 12th Edition if for no other reason than to avoid scorn and damnation from the inevitable know-it-all “parliamentarian” who can be found lurking in the back row of chairs at most association meetings.

   Spoiler alert:  the changes from the 11th Edition are not exactly the stuff of summertime "page turners."  The first clue is the fact the 12th Edition is actually only two pages longer than the 11th Edition, so right away you know the editors have not gone crazy.  One cannot help but suspect that the timing of the new edition was due more to the fact that the publication date coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first edition of Robert’s Rules rather than to the desperate need for changes.

   Still, there are some significant changes and the authors of the new edition have published a list of “the most notable ways” (numbering 89 in all) in which the new edition differs from its predecessor.  For example, the new edition reportedly refines the rules governing the proper sending of meeting notices.

   For the penny pinchers among us, one might be tempted to review this summary before tossing out the dog-eared 11th edition already in our possession.

   Given the times, the most promising development ‒ one must wait for the actual publication to know for sure ‒ is a new appendix setting out sample rules by which electronic meetings should be run ‒ a very hot topic indeed in these days of the pandemic.  More on that in a future edition of A Legal Moment.


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Philip Roth is a founding shareholder at Marshall, Roth & Gregory, PC. One of the firm's principal litigators, Philip's practice involves myriad issues involving community associations.

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