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Report of the Council on Statutes K, 2 and K, 5

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows:

Purpose

1. The purpose of this Report is to consult the Regent House about a possible amendment to Statute K, 5. The Report also comments on Statute K, 2.

Background

2. In the Council's consultative Report on the office of Commissary (Reporter, 1999-2000, p. 348) the Council referred to the provisions of Statute K, 2 (application by the Council to the Chancellor for a declaration of the meaning of a Statute) and Statute K, 5 (representations and enquiry into contravention of the Statutes and Ordinances).

Statute K, 2

3. Statute K, 2 is as follows:

If any doubt arises as to the true meaning of any Statute of the University, or of any Statute for the University and any one or more of the Colleges in common, the Council may apply to the Chancellor, who shall then declare in writing the meaning of the Statute in question, and such declaration shall be registered by the Registrary of the University, and the meaning of the Statute as therein declared shall be deemed the true meaning thereof. The University shall defray the cost of any legal advice obtained by the Chancellor for the performance of his or her duty under this section.

4. The Council believe that this Statute, although seldom used, presents a useful route whereby uncertainty can be resolved expeditiously. The Council see no need for any amendment of the present Statute and no proposal is therefore made.

Statute K, 5

5. The present Statute K, 5 is as follows:

If, within thirty days after the doing of any act, including an election, by any person or body having power to act under the Statutes, it is represented in writing to the Vice-Chancellor that there has been a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances in the doing of such act, the Vice-Chancellor shall inquire into the matter and shall declare either that there has been no such contravention, or that the said act is of no effect, or, if the Vice-Chancellor is of the opinion that the irregularity has not affected the result, that the validity of the act is not affected by such contravention. If the Vice-Chancellor's decision has not been announced within ten days after receipt of the representation, or if they are dissatisfied with the decision, any fifty members of the Regent House may within one week appeal in writing to the Chancellor, whose decision shall be final. If there is no such appeal, the decision of the Vice-Chancellor shall be final. If the office of Chancellor is vacant, the functions assigned to the Chancellor by this section shall be exercised by the High Steward.

No act shall be invalid by reason of the fact that there has been a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances, unless there has been a representation in writing as aforesaid within thirty days after the doing thereof.

No act shall be invalid by reason of the fact that any person taking part in the act, and chosen in the manner prescribed or authorized by the Statutes or Ordinances to be the person or a member of the body authorized to act, was not qualified to be so chosen.

6. The Council believe that a procedure on the lines of the present Statute K, 5 for representations and enquiry into contravention of the Statutes and Ordinances is indeed required, but that relatively minor changes are needed to the present Statute K, 5 for it to operate entirely satisfactorily. The Council believe that Statute K, 5 should be principally a procedure for the quick correction of mistakes which are directly related to the question of whether the Statutes or Ordinances have been evidently contravened.

7. It is impracticable for the Vice-Chancellor, the officer with whom the responsibility for the correction of such mistakes naturally rests, to deal with all cases within ten days. The Council therefore propose that although the obligation on the Vice-Chancellor to deal with these matters in the first instance should be maintained, the present requirement that he should rule within ten days should be replaced by new provisions as set out in the draft Statute set out in the annex to this Report.

8. The present Statute permits any fifty members of the Regent House, within a week, to appeal in writing to the Chancellor (or if the office of Chancellor is vacant to the High Steward) either if the decision is delayed or if they are dissatisfied by the decision. This procedure is out-dated, and the Council suggest that consideration should be given to replacing it by use of the proposed review procedure set out in their first and second Reports on the Office of Commissary (for the first Report see Reporter, 1999-2000, p. 348, and for the second Report see Reporter, 2000-01, p. 696) . The requirement for action by fifty members of the Regent House, rather than by the individual concerned, would be ended.

Next steps

9. The Council propose that this Report should be the subject of a Discussion. The Council will consider any remarks made at the Discussion and will then propose to the Regent House what amendment, if any, should be made to Statute K, 5.

14 May 2001    ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor    GORDON JOHNSON          M. D. MACLEOD
  A. J. BADGER DONALD LAMING J. M. R. MATHESON
  C. R. J. BAILEY IAN LESLIE G. A. REID
  JOHN BOYD A. M. LONSDALE JEREMY SANDERS
  MAT COAKLEY C. LUDLOW LIBA TAUB
  PETER GODDARD D. W. MACDONALD R. E. THORNTON
  D. A. GOOD

ANNEX

Possible revised form of Statute K, 5

(a) If, within thirty days after the doing of any act by any person or body having power to act under the Statutes, it is represented in writing to the Vice-Chancellor by a member of the University that there has been a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances in the doing of such act, the Vice-Chancellor shall inquire into the matter and shall declare either that there has been no such contravention, or that the said act is of no effect, or, if the Vice-Chancellor is of the opinion that the contravention has not affected the result, that the validity of the act is not affected. The person making the representation shall state in writing the act to which he or she refers, and the contravention of Statute or Ordinance which he or she represents has taken place. The Vice-Chancellor shall give his or her decision promptly but in any event within three months, unless the person making the representation has agreed in writing to an extension of time.

(b) If the person making the representation is dissatisfied with the Vice-Chancellor's decision, or if he or she believes that there has been unreasonable delay he or she may make representations to the Commissary in the manner prescribed in Statute D, Chapter V.* The decision of the Commissary shall be final. If there is no representation to the Commissary, the decision of the Vice-Chancellor shall be final.

(c) No act shall be invalid by reason of the fact that there has been a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances, unless there has been a representation in writing as aforesaid within thirty days after the doing thereof.

(d) No act shall be invalid by reason of the fact that any person taking part in the act, and chosen in the manner prescribed or authorized by the Statutes or Ordinances to be the person or a member of the body authorized to act, was not qualified to be so chosen.

* See the Council's Second Report on the Office of Commissary (Reporter, p. 696) for the proposed procedure.


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Cambridge University Reporter, 16 May 2001
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