Guidelines for Chairing a Group Conscience


1.   All issues submitted by members of the Group to members of the Group Steering Committee (GSC) must be carefully considered by the Chairman for possible inclusion in the final agenda.

1a.  The agenda may also include matters discussed at the last Intergroup, Regional Assembly or GDA or at such meetings still to come. The Chairman should be kept well informed on all such matters by the General Service Representative (GSR).

1b.  The Group may have decided to include in the agenda certain items left over from the previous business meeting, because they required more time for informed debate.

1c.  Group Conscience meetings are held every six months so, if time allows, the agenda should include a Group Inventory.

2.   The agenda should be as clear and specific as possible, remembering there is limited time for debate.

3.   The Group Chairman has the "right of decision" when deciding the final agenda, but must remember that he or she is accountable to the Group.

4.   The Chair should give the final Agenda to the GSR for distribution one week before GSC meetings.


1.  All motions made should be carefully considered in light of our Traditions, Concepts & Guidelines. If the Chairman believes the motion to be outside of these it is his/her duty to inform the Group and reject the motion. The Group may overturn the Chairman’s decision with a majority vote.

2.   Any motion made at the Group Conscience which has already been voted on within the previous six months should not be allowed, unless two thirds of the members desire it.

3.  There should be thorough discussion and as much understanding of the motion as possible before any vote is taken.

4.   There should be only one motion under discussion at a time. A second motion is allowed only if the first motion is withdrawn.

5.   Any motion by a sober member of the Group which has been seconded should be carefully considered and voted on, provided it fits the criteria in section 3 a,b & c.

6.   At any time, a person can introduce an amendment to the main motion being debated.  For an amendment to pass, it needs a simple majority.

Voting Process

1.   At the Group conscience, choose a teller - to assist the Chairman with counting votes.

2.   On simple matters a majority vote is enough. Even a "sense of the meeting " may take the place of a vote if no vote seems essential. In such a case the chairperson asks, "Is it the sense of the meeting that ....?” If there are no dissenters, then accord is apparent.

2a.  The Group should decide on any change in the voting procedure before the vote is taken. The majority required (if more than a simple majority) is to be made known to the Group by the Chairman before voting takes place.

2b.  Any matter of great importance to the Group or SA as a whole can be decided with either a two thirds or even three quarters majority, rather than a simple majority. The Group can decide what majority is required with a majority vote.

4.    After any vote the Chairman can call for minority opinions. "A well-reasoned minority opinion can result in another vote, reversing the first decision".

5.    The Chairman has no vote in the GSC.

5a.  The Chairman has a casting vote in the Group Conscience. When a vote is equally divided (i.e. If the vote was ten for & ten against), the Chairman can decide the vote one way or the other (A Casting Vote).

6.   The Chairman can request an immediate vote on any issue that needs to be resolved quickly. This could mean a vote before or after any meeting without prior warning.

Election of Officers

1.   At the GSC, invite nominations for each position to be filled. Each candidate should be seconded.

1a.  Ask for all in favour of a candidate’s nomination to raise their hands. If there is more than one nomination for a particular job, the candidate with the majority obtains the GSC’s nomination.

2.    At the Group Conscience, the Chairman reads out all the nominations for all positions, asking each candidate to raise his/her hand for identification and to indicate that they are willing to do the job.

2a.  All candidates submitted by the GSC should have been nominated and seconded at the GSC meeting immediately prior to the Group Conscience.

3.   At the Group Conscience begin by announcing the candidates for each position, one at a time.  Ask for any other nominations. If there are none, ask whether there are any objections to the GSC’s candidate having the job. In the absence of any objections the candidate is elected. If there are other nominations they should be seconded before going to a vote.

4.  If an elected officer is unable to complete their term of office and finishes between conscience meetings the GSR can appoint a member to fill in. The new officer should be ratified at the next GSC.

4a. If the position discussed at 4. involves membership of the GSC, the GSR should cover the position themselves or ask a current member of the GSC to do the job, until the GSC can nominate a candidate for the Group to ratify.

Participation & Timekeeping

1.  Ask a member (preferably an observer or a new member) to assist with time keeping by letting you know when, say, ten minutes of discussion has elapsed on a topic or when some extra time which you have allotted is up. The Timer can announce time up without needing to raise their hand.

1a.  Ask the GSR to take notes of all relevant discussions and decisions made during the meeting.

2.   To avoid confusion, and to encourage full participation by as many members as possible, those who wish to speak should first raise their hands and speak only at the invitation of the Chairman.

2a   Anyone disrupting the meeting may be invited to leave. If they refuse to leave and continue to disrupt the meeting, ask another member to call the police and have the member removed. The person removed is always welcome to attend the next meeting.

2b    When choosing who speaks next, you are not obliged to respond to the “first hand up”. Your priority is to allow a well-informed conscience to be expressed. This means striking a balance between maximum member participation and allowing the Group to be "well-informed by its elders".

2a   Non Group members are also welcome to participate in discussion but only when invited by the Chairman. Non Group members have no voting rights.  

3.    If a member feels that the rules of order are being broken, they can immediately raise a 'point of order', stating what rule has been broken or not been enforced by the Chairman. A point of order can interrupt a speaker. The Chairman then decides if the point is valid or not and proceeds accordingly.

3a.   A point of privilege may interrupt the speaker.  Any member who feels that their rights or privileges have been infringed may indicate this by stating their objection. Privilege refers to anything regarding comfort or the right of the member not to be insulted, misquoted, or deliberately misinterpreted.  Again, the Chairman decides if the point is valid or not and proceeds accordingly.

3b   If any member feels that their point of order or privilege has been unfairly ruled on by the Chairman, they can challenge the him/her. The Chairman then asks for a motion to uphold the Chair, and a vote is taken. This vote can decide to uphold either the Chair or the member making the point.

4.   At any point, any member can ask that debate be ended on any topic. This requires a majority vote to take effect.

5.  Announce the time at which you intend to close the meeting. Only go beyond the appointed time if a majority vote in favour of doing so.

6.  The Chairman should command the respect of all in the room but he or she is not the final arbitrator of all decisions. The Group has the ultimate authority and the responsibility to decide how the meeting should run.