Q&A: Are Online Meetings OK?

Q With the proliferation of media such as Skype, OoVoo and FaceTime for online  audio and video conferencing, I was thinking that community association and  board of directors’ meetings probably could be conducted remotely. Can associations use telephone  or Internet video conferencing under Illinois law? Would there be any legal  restrictions to doing this and are there any guidelines for condominium  associations to follow?  

 —Confidentially Speaking  

A “Section 18(a)(9) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act mandates that meetings  of directors of condominium associations in Illinois be held in an open format,” explains attorney James A. Erwin of the Chicago law office of Erwin & Associates, LLC. “This mandate is subject only to a few exceptions, namely when the directors are  meeting to discuss litigation involving the association, employment or  dismissal of an employee or rules or assessment violations by a unit owner. The objective of the open meeting mandate is to lend transparency to the conduct  and actions of the board by allowing owners to hear how the directors are  making decisions affecting their shared living community. Complying with this mandate is a key component to any well run association  board.”  

 “As for what legally constitutes an open meeting, condominium associations in  Illinois can look to the Illinois General Not for Profit Corporation Act. Section 108.15 of that Act specifically permits board members to participate by  telephone conference so long as all parties can be heard by all in attendance. This authority, however, may be stricken by express provisions to the contrary  in the association’s bylaws. For purposes of a quorum, directors properly participating by telephone  conference are counted as being in attendance at the meeting.  

 “We generally counsel association boards to use telephone conference meetings as  sparingly as possible and to limit the participation by directors in that  format as much as possible so as to avoid resentment of the ownership. A director that regularly cannot attend meetings in person should reconsider  serving in that capacity. Owners should be able to see and hear the directors  in their deliberations. Remote participation cuts down on that transparency and  can lead to miscommunication, suspicions and other negative fallout.”  

 “While the question posed here does not specifically inquire about email  communications, given the quickly evolving nature of technology and  communication methods, I wish to extend this response to address that issue as  well. Because correspondence by email, text and other digital communication  modes cannot be heard by attendees, these methods of communication are not  permitted for purposes of meetings under the Not for Profit Corporation Act.  Meetings held using these formats do not comply with the open meeting  requirements of the I  llinois Condominium Property Act.”   


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