Angela from Windsor, Ontario in Canada has asked this question.

The only things that generally need to be recorded in minutes are those in attendance and those who have offered an apology.

Regrets and absence have no place in the minutes.

But there is a sting in the tail. Apologies are only people who have asked for the apologies to be recorded. They are not, a list of people who are not there. Nor is it appropriate for someone to say “Fred is not here so I think we should record his apologies” – that is NOT an apology unless Fred specifically asked for his apologies to be recorded.

Many organisations have a third category of attendance: 1. Present; 2. Apologies (following the guidelines above); and, 3. Not present. These are people who are on the committee or board, are not present, and have not offered an apology. There are some jurisdictions I have heard of that will hold people who have not offered an apology equally responsible for decisions and their outcomes as those who were present so it is important to get it right.

It is wise to discourage people offering apologies for people who are not present just because they are not there. An apology has to be a deliberate act on behalf of the person apologising.

Please Note: The author is not a lawyer and accepts no responsibility for anything which occurs directly or indirectly as a result of using any of the suggestions or procedures detailed in this blog. All suggestions and procedures are provided in good faith as general guidelines only and should be used in conjunction with relevant legislation, constitutions, rules, laws, by-laws, and with reasonable judgement.

David Julian Price



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Vannessa

    Good day Sir

    I have a situation here. It’s the 1st project meeting where the Chair is going to appoint the committees. The Chair has informed the members that he is going to appoint them for certain roles in the project and has informed them about the 1st project meeting.
    However, the members did not come to the meeting nor did they offer apologies, but they consented to be appointed.

    Should these members be categorised in “Not Present”?

    There were comments saying that since this is the 1st meeting, only the category of “Present” is needed.

    1. David Price

      It really depends on what is useful for the future meetings to know. If the fact that certain people were not present is important, add it. It takes nothing away – it only adds to clarity.

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