The appointment of general meeting officers is a necessity for holding any general meeting of co-owners. The range of titles and offices of general meeting officers is diversified: president, vice-president, meeting secretary, and possibly scrutineer. Like any other person, general meeting officers may engage their personal liability if they do not observe a duty of care and diligence in the performance of their duties. They are - whether remunerated or not- therefore exposed to legal proceedings in the event of a breach of their obligations. Depending on the circumstances, this could be the case, for example, if the president of the meeting takes a wrongful decision during the course of the meeting, and that his decision causes a prejudice to one or more co-owners.
Unlike the syndicate, general meeting officers' liability insurance is not mandatory (under the Law). In addition, although multi-risk general insurance subscribed by the syndicate generally includes civil liability coverage for members of the Board of Directors, the latter does not cover the acts of the general meeting officers. Careful reading of the policy is a must to define who the insured persons are, the definition varying from one policy to another. To avoid any ambiguity, the Board of Directors must verify that the directors' liability insurance is extended to the officers of the meeting. Also, given their essential role in the management of the co-ownership’s general meetings, the legislator should make it compulsory that the syndicates of co-owners subscribe civil liability insurance to cover them.
Declaration of co-ownership
In addition to the statutory guarantees required by law, the declaration of co-ownership may require the Board of Directors of your syndicate to insure the civil liability of meeting officers. This obligation is in keeping with the logic of safeguarding collective and individual interests. Such insurance could be particularly critical if the syndicate chooses to retain the services of persons outside the co-ownership to perform the duties of general meeting officers, as such persons will not accept to be at risk by accepting this function. The directors also have the right to decide that it is sound management to take out additional guarantees, not only in the interests of the officers of the meeting but also in the interest co-ownership generally.
General meeting officers’ civil liability policies contain limitations and exclusions which must be explained by the damage insurance representative. Damage caused by willful misconduct and fraudulent acts is generally not covered.
Cost of premiums
If the declaration of co-ownership requires the board of directors to take out such insurance or if it decides to subscribe it on its own initiative, it is the responsibility of the syndicate to pay such expenses. It goes without saying that the cost will be allocated between the co-owners, in proportion to the relative value of their fraction, as common expenses.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! Ontario legislation provides that the syndicate of co-owners must take out general meeting officers liability insurance, to the extent it is "reasonably available", that is, where the cost of the premiums is not exorbitant.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: It is recommended that syndicates of co-owners take out civil liability insurance for general meeting officers, in particular to maximize the possibility of using persons outside the co-ownership to perform these functions.
WARNING! By becoming a general meeting officer, you are exposed to certain risks that may involve your personal liability. It is therefore in your best interest to require the Board of Directors to take out liability insurance to cover damage caused to third parties arising from faults committed in the exercise of your duties.
CONSULT THE PUBLICATION: Condo Insurance: Everything you should know