A point of order is a tool, which is used to draw attention to a breach in rules, an irregularity in procedure, the irrelevance or continued repetition of a speaker or the breaching of established practices or contradiction of a previous decision.
It can be used at any time during a meeting including interrupting a speaker, but it must be valid. A point of order is not raised because you disagree with or do not like what is being said.
How do you raise a point of order?
You do not move a point of order, you raise it or take it. The method is to say the words “point of order”, wait for the chair to acknowledge the point of order and then state it clearly. Whether you normally stand to speak in your meetings or not, it is wise to stand when raising a point of order so that it is perfectly clear that a) there is a serious point of order being raised, and b) to identify the person raising the point.
Do not use points of order too much. Many people use them to disagree with the speakers’s opinion. When they are used either incorrectly, or too much, the other people in the meeting frequently tire of the person raising them and he or she loses support.
Examples of correct “Points of Order”
… point of order Mr Chairperson,… the speaker is not speaking to the motion.
… point of order, …. allowing this person to move this motion contravenes standing order number 34, that the mover of the substantive motion cannot move a procedural motion which closes debate.
… point of order, …. the speaker is repeating the same points he has already made.
… point of order, …. the motion contravenes our by-laws.
… point of order, …. the specific facts the speaker is giving are incorrect. (Note: this is not a statement of opinion, but of fact and assumes the person raising the point of order can validate the point)
… point of order, …. the speaker’s time limit has expired.
… point of order, …. the language the speaker is using is offensive.
… point of order, …. the meeting no longer has a quorum.
Examples which are not valid points of order
… point of order, …. that’s not true.
… point of order, …. I disagree with that.
… point of order, …. I want to explain why I said that.
… point of order, …. the speaker shouldn’t be allowed to say that.
… point of order, …. how long do we have to listen to this?
… point of order, …. I can’t hear what the speaker is saying
When must the Point of Order be Raised?
The point of order must be raised immediately the alleged breach or irregularity occurs – that is why it can interrupt a speaker or the chair.
What must the chair do when a point of order is raised?
Immediately a point of order is raised the chair must stop the speaker or stop the process of the meeting and deal with the point of order.
The chair should ask the speaker to resume his or her seat and then list to the point of order. Having heart the point, the chair must rule immediately subject to conferring with relevant authorities about the validity of the issue raised in the point of order.
There are three possible statements a chairperson can make:
1. “That is not a point of order”.
This is made when the point of order which has been raised is not a point of order. It is most likely a statement of opinion or similar and should be dealt with quickly.
2. I will accept your point of order and therefore …” In this instance the chair will continue the meeting according to the correct procedure, having had attention drawn to a breach or irregularity.
3. “I do not accept your point or order”
In this case the chair will continue with the meeting as if there had been no interruption.
Can a Point of Order be Debated?
No debate is permitted on a point of order beyond fair reasonable clarification of procedures or rules.
Can a Point of Order be Challenged?
Yes, but this should be done with great caution. If a person in a meeting believes that the ruling given by the chair in response to a point of order is incorrect, then the procedural motion “dissenting from the chair’s ruling” should be moved immediately.
This motion disagreeing with the ruling of the chair should be seconded and put to the vote without debate. The result of the vote will determine whether the ruling is upheld or reversed.
Special Note: There are some legal technicalities here, which should be considered if your meetings are likely to have legal significance. There is not a clear-cut legal ruling. There are legal precedents, which say the ruling by the chair on a point of order cannot be challenged, and others which say it can. The wisest way to deal with this is before the event, by including a specific clause in your constitution or standard orders, which either allows a challenge or denies it. (It would be wise to allow challenges.)
Can there be more than one point of order at the same time?
Technically, yes, but it is very rare. A point of order having been raised, may itself be dealt with incorrectly in which case it would be valid for a second point of order to be raised about the irregularity of dealing with the first point of order.
In this case, the second point of order would be dealt with first, and then the original point of order. As a general rule however, there can only be one point of order being considered.
If the chair is competent and deals with points of order correctly, there should never be two points of order before the chair.
Should Points of Order be Recorded in the Minutes?
Generally no, unless the rules of the organisation state that they should (and this is extremely rare and unnecessary). In most organizations, points of order are not recorded.
16 thoughts on “Point of Order – what, why, when and how”
Thank you so much for a concise explanation. We have a a feuding Board of Directors where animosity has reached a point where no business can be conducted. At the monthly meeting last evening there seemed to be total disregard of the Agenda, which culminated in my standing and raising a Point of Order and stating that the speaker was not permitted to speak on issues that were not on the Agenda much less make a motion on the topic. The chair did not handle this correctly, elevated voices and obnoxious behavior continued, and the Chair ultimately adjourned the meeting. I am hopeful that your article will be of assistance so that our President will be better prepared to rein in out of control directors.
David , your article has been very helpful. Please do share any of your article relating to the topic ” SUBJUDICE” . Than you.
Can a “point of order” be made during an official election meeting?
A Point of Order can be raised at any duly constituted meeting. But it must be a valid point of order.
Hello, Thank you for this informative article. In anticipation of a contentious meeting tomorrow, I need to know if I could raise a point of order. I ask because I expect this to become necessary. Last week, a colleague – a member of the public – presented a non-publicly warned item to a selectboard and a selectboard member spoke purely to present his differing opinion without having been asked a question during the presentation? The chair would not allow “back and forth” citing the fact that this was a not a publicly warned meeting, but had not stopped the selectboard member before he was finished speaking. I would like to know if this were to happen again, if I could call a point to order and if so, what would the “point” be? I would like to either stop the out of order remark or be given a chance to offer rebuttal. Thank you very much.
I am sorry.
This question has just come to my attention.
I hope you achieved what you wanted from the meeting.
One of our board members states that at a Board meeting the only person that can raise a point of order is another board member. They believe it is our meeting the owners are there to observe. Owner may make statements on agenda items only. Can an owner at the Board meeting raise a point of order?
Your board member is correct. If the other owners are there as observers, they have no right to actually participate in the meeting other then if they are invited. A point of order is raised as part of the procedure of the meeting. Only the people who are actually members of the board are entitled to raise a point of order.
If you have an issue, you can raise your hand and hope that the chair recognises you and asks what you want to say, but they are not obliged to allow you to speak except in things like question time or similar.
I know this is probably not the answer you want, but it is the technical answer.
A Point of Order was raised during a meeting I was chairing. The speaker and I were in the middle of a heated exchange. Because of the positioning the audio speakers, and the fact that I could only hear myself speaking, I did not hear the PoO raised and therefore never acknowledged it. It was not mentioned when I stopped talking and therefore I had no knowledge of it until after the meeting was adjourned.
The speaker of the PoO would like it noted in the minutes that she raised a PoO and it was not addressed. Based on the above, I see it does not need to documented in the minutes. If she insists, how can I document that it was not addressed because I did not hear it?
Points of order are not recorded in minutes in Australia but they are in the USA.
You can just add a Chair’s note to the minutes that a Point of order was raised and not addressed as you did not hear it. That would acknowledge that you did not hear, but also that you found out about it later.
I own a Condo in Florida. Recently we had a new Chair take control of our BOD. This person does not conduct good meetings and obviously has little or no experience. As an owner, am I able raise a point of order at general meetings regarding the rules of order? This person is a tyrant and has a personal agenda which has fractured the harmony of our BOD. Is there a process that allows for this person to be removed?
In general terms, yes, you can raise a point of order about the rules of order.
In relation to removing the person, I am in Australia and the rules governing bodies like yours are quite different and so I suggest you look up a local person from the American Institute of Parliamentarians, one who specialises in your type of organisation and seek their assistance.
Their website is: https://aipparl.org/
I hope that helps.
Thank you David. I appreciate the response.
Our Village Council was having a Committee of the Whole meeting , where we follow agenda and discuss things no motions are made. We were attempting to answer a question she had during CAO report which wasn’t even part of his report. she suddenly called out Point of Order saying other Council member couldn’t talk because he was was related to business owner possibly involved in final decision of item she was asking about . This decision will be made down the road. She also wanted is put in minutes.
This has never happened before and threw me for a loop . Didn’t know what to do so moved on to different subject. Does it go in the minutes ? It doesn’t seem like because of something I read. Can’t find about it in Roberts Rules. I live in Canada .
Thank you. Kathie