The appointment of meeting officers is necessary to hold a general meeting of co-owners.The range of their titles and functions are without limitation: president, vice-president, secretary and scrutineer of the general meeting. It is the declaration of co-ownership, in the chapter By-laws of an immovable that provides the rules to be followed. However, the civil liability of a general meeting officer with regard to the tasks incumbent upon him is largely unknown. Yet many Quebeckers accept this charge, while not being aware of this reality.
Every general meeting officer is personally liable if he fails to observe its duty of care and diligence in carrying out his mandate. He may be the object of legal proceedings whether he is paid or a volunteer in the case of a serious breach to his duties. This could be the case, without limitation, if, during a general meeting, the president takes an erroneous decision, and thereby causes a prejudice to one or several co-owners.
Purpose of the coverage
Such insurance limits the impact of the financial consequences that the general meeting officers would suffer on their assets. It protects them by assuming their defence, that is to say by paying the costs associated with the insured’s defense (legal fees, expert fees and other court fees). And if they are held liable, it will pay the damages and other costs that the insured is required to pay following a claim.
Obligation to be insured
As a result of article 1073 of the Civil Code of Quebec, civil lability insurance for meeting officers became mandatory on April 15, 2021. It covers the civil liability of the president and the secretary of the general meeting along with that of the other persons entrusted with its orderly process. The declaration of co-ownership can also specify the amount of coverage. This insurance not only aims to protect the general meeting officers, it also allows the syndicate and co-owners to be adequately covered, in the event that a general meeting officer is at fault, makes mistakes or omissions, or is negligent in the performance of his duties.
The civil liability policies of the general meeting officers do not cover all situations involving legal liability. They usually include several exclusions. For example, damage caused by intentional fault and gross negligence, as well as fraudulent acts, are generally not covered.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! By becoming a general meeting officer, you are exposed to certain risks that may engage your personal liability. It is therefore in your best interest to require the board of directors to take out liability insurance so that damage to third parties is covered by such insurance policy.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: The syndicate of co-owners should take out liability insurance for general meeting officers, particularly to maximize the chances of people outside the co-ownership accepting this position.
WARNING! Although the multi-risk insurance underwritten by the syndicate generally provide for civil liability coverage for directors, this coverage does not necessarily cover the actions of the general meeting officers. To dissipate any doubt, the board of directors must ensure that the liability coverage of the directors is extended to the general meeting officers.