Dear Dinosaur: Our local bylaws are old and have clauses that conflict with the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order. Does Robert’s Rules overrule the conflicting errors?
Answer: No. Bylaws have higher authority than Robert’s Rules, so if the clauses conflict, in general, the bylaws take precedence (have authority).
It is a good idea to specify in your bylaws one of the following:
- Our parliamentary authority is Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, current edition, OR
- Our parliamentary authority is Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition.
The book, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition, recommends the first formula. However, if you do that, it means that when a new edition is published (every 10 years or so), your parliamentary authority changes. For that reason, some parliamentarians recommend the second formula, which leaves it up to your body to decide if it wants to adopt the changes in the latest edition or not.
It is also a good idea to review your current bylaws in light of whatever edition of Robert’s Rules you adopt, and decide whether to amend them to match, if it suits your organization.