Five tips for chairing tricky meetings

This factsheet provides five tips for chairing tricky meetings.

The Chairperson is responsible for allowing a reasonable opportunity for the members at an AGM to ask questions or make comments about the management of the corporation. It is an offence not to do so. The Chairperson also is the public face of the corporation, so assists with maintaining the corporation’s values and upholding its reputation.

In a meeting, the Chairperson needs to keep the meeting on track so that decisions are made properly and fairly. Where lots of people want to have a say and topics can be emotive, this can be very difficult.

We have facilitated several tricky meetings in our collective experience, so we’ve summarised our five best tips.

The factsheet is available here.

Role and responsibilities in Prescribed Body Corporates (PBCs)

This factsheet explains the roles of people in a PBC.

If a native title claim is successful, the native title holders must nominate an Aboriginal corporation to hold their native title. This is called a prescribed body corporate, or a PBC.

There are many people involved in a PBC, including native title holders, members, directors and in some circumstances a Chief Executive Officer.

It is important that the roles and responsibilities of these people are understood.

The factsheet is available here.

Future Acts

This factsheet explains future acts.

A future act is a proposal to do something on land or waters that affects native title rights and interests. Examples of future acts include mining tenements, public infrastructure, water licences, and the compulsory acquisition of land.

The Native Title Act sets out the rights that a native title party has when a future act is proposed. These are called “procedural rights” and depending on the type of future act being proposed, can include: 

  • The right to be notified
  • The right to comment
  • The right to be consulted
  • The right to object, or
  • The right to negotiate.

Under the Native Title Act, a native title party does not have the right to veto a future act from being done. The highest procedural right is the right to negotiate an agreement about the future act.

The factsheet is available here.

Incorporating a Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC)

This factsheet explains the process to incorporate a PBC.

If a native title claim is successful, the native title holders must nominate an Aboriginal corporation to hold their native title. This is called a prescribed body corporate, or a PBC. To do this, the native title holders ask the Federal Court to determine that the Aboriginal corporation they nominated should be the PBC for the native title determination. This happens at the same time as the native title determination, or within a period of time allowed by the Court afterwards.

If the claim group does not nominate an Aboriginal corporation within the time allowed by the Court, the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) may become the default PBC. If the ILSC becomes the default PBC, then the native title holders lose direct control of management of their native title.

Native title holders, members and directors all have a role in the PBC carrying out its functions. The members and directors run the operations of the PBC and have an obligation to speak to the native title holders about native title decisions.
Once the PBC is nominated it becomes the job of the PBC to deal with native title, not the claim group. The PBC is the contact point for people who want to do something on the native title area.

The factsheet is available here.

How healthy is your native title corporation?

Native title corporations hold, manage, and protect recognised native title rights and interests.  We have developed a checklist to see how healthy your corporation is.

 

Native title corporations should:

  • be managed in a way that is transparent and promotes accountability;
  • act in accordance with the law; and
  • ensure their directors act professionally, responsibly and plan for the future.

MPS Law has worked with native title corporations (or ‘RNTBCs’) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations across Australia and has developed a checklist to assist you in determining how healthy your corporation is.  We encourage you to read this document in conjunction with our heritage survey checklist, native title benefits checklist, RNTBC AGM checklist and template letter agreement for heritage surveys in native title land.

The checklist is available here.

Note: This document is intended as a guide only to assist directors and members in ensuring their corporation is well managed.  This does not constitute legal advice.  The issues and questions set out are of a general nature and may not reflect your specific circumstances.  There may be additional and important issues that should be considered when evaluating the actions of the corporation.  If you or your organisation has a legal problem you should obtain professional advice from a legal practitioner.

Witness Statement Checklist for Native Title Claims

This checklist sets out necessary legal, ethical, and practical considerations to ensure that witness statements are obtained and prepared in a way that increases the likelihood of success and satisfies obligations.

 

 

Witness statements are a key source of evidence in native title claims. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples require that free, prior and informed consent is a key aspect when obtaining instructions or legal agreements from Indigenous clients. Free, prior and informed consent implies that consent should be obtained with no coercion, sufficiently in advance and with the size, pace, reversibility and scope of the activity appropriately explained. In addition, native title law is complex and the settings can be challenging, which can make witness statements more difficult than usual.

You can download the checklist here.

Note: This document is intended as a guide only. This does not constitute legal advice. The issues and questions set out are of a general nature and may not reflect your specific circumstances. There may be additional and important considerations that should be taken into account in your specific circumstances, depending on the requirements of your corporation and its rule book. If you or your organisation has a legal problem, you should obtain professional advice from a legal practitioner.

Checklist for an AGM of a Registered Native Title Body Corporate

This checklist is to help RNTBCs plan and hold Annual General Meetings.

Registered Native Title Body Corporates are required to hold an Annual General Meeting before December each year. Procedurally, these meetings are held to ensure that RNTBC members have an opportunity to comment, make decisions and elect directors.

Practically, these meetings are a key opportunity for community to hold the RNTBC accountable. These meetings provide community with a platform to make key decisions which effect their interests and enjoyment of country.

You can view the checklist here.

 

Note: This document is intended as a guide only to assist with the facilitation of RNTBC AGMs in accordance with the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth). This does not constitute legal advice. The issues and questions set out are of a general nature and may not reflect your specific circumstances. There may be additional and important considerations that should be taken into account in your specific circumstances, depending on the requirements of your corporation and its rule book. If you or your organisation has a legal problem, you should obtain professional advice from a legal practitioner.

Native title decision checklist for RNTBCs

This checklist sets out necessary considerations to ensure that native title decisions are properly made.

A native title decision is a decision by common law holders that will either surrender or otherwise affect their native title rights or interests. The Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations 1999 (Cth) (the Regulations) set out the requirements that RNTBCs and PBCs must satisfy to ensure that a native title decision is validly and effectively made. These requirements include requirements to consult and obtain the consent of common law holders in relation to the decision.

Aside from the Regulations, effective consultation with common law holders is vital for the principle of free, prior and informed consent of traditional owners for decision-making processes affecting their interests and enjoyment of country.

The checklist is available here.

An explanatory summary that takes into account changes to the law in 2021 is available here.

We have also prepared a factsheet on native title decisions, to help directors of Prescribed Body Corporates (or Registered Native Title Body Corporates) to understand and comply with the law.

 

Note: This document is intended as a guide only to assist with the facilitation of native title decisions in accordance with the Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations 1999 (Cth). This does not constitute legal advice. The issues and questions set out are of a general nature and may not reflect your specific circumstances. There may be additional and important considerations that should be taken into account in your specific circumstances, depending on the requirements of your corporation and its rule book. If you or your organisation has a legal problem you should obtain professional advice from a legal practitioner.

Template heritage survey procedure and checklist for native title parties

We have created a free checklist to set out the necessary steps to review a survey request, organise an appropriate survey team and correctly report survey findings. More generally, this checklist identifies issues Traditional Owners should consider so that heritage can be effectively managed.

Heritage surveys are a necessary part of ensuring explorers and miners comply with their obligations under agreements and heritage legislation when conducting activities on country. More importantly, heritage surveys play an important role in ensuring Traditional Owners are consulted and informed about what happens on country. This allows Traditional Owners to assess any risks to heritage during exploration and mining activities and how those risks can be minimised

Aside from complying with the law and managing risks, heritage surveys also play an important role in establishing an effective relationship between companies and Traditional Owners. Being proactive in conducting heritage surveys ensures that Aboriginal heritage issues form an integral consideration from the initial stages of a project. This also helps to establish lines of communication for Traditional Owners to voice heritage concerns or report issues.

To put Traditional Owners in the best position to assess risks to heritage, establish an effective relationship with companies and explorers and uphold heritage considerations during all stages of activities on country, there are several factors you will need to consider. This checklist has been prepared to set out the necessary steps and identify issues Traditional Owners should consider so that heritage can be effectively managed.

The checklist is available here.

MPS Law strongly encourages you to read this document in conjunction with our Heritage Survey Workflow. This template workflow (or process) is available here.

Note: These documents are intended as a guide only to assist with the preparation and conduct of a heritage survey. This does not constitute legal advice. The issues and questions set out are of a general nature and may not reflect your specific circumstances. There may be additional and important considerations that should be taken into account in your specific circumstances, depending on the parties’ contractual requirements and any internal survey procedures. If you or your organisation has a legal problem you should obtain professional advice from a legal practitioner.

Benefits checklist for native title parties negotiating agreements

Native title parties are often required to negotiate agreements with project proponents on mining, oil and gas and exploration agreements. We have created a checklist to help with negotiations.

Negotiations are complex, but can result in significant benefits to native title parties, as well as certainty for project proponents.

We have been fortunate to negotiate several landmark agreements, and continue to act for native title parties and project proponents in land access matters.

We have developed a checklist to help native title parties, like claim groups and registered native title body corporates, check their processes and agreements. You can download the checklist here.

MPS Law strongly encourages you to read this document in conjunction with our Healthy Contract Checklist and Native Title Decision Checklist. Click here to access the Heathy Contract Checklist and here to access the Native Title Decision checklist.

Like all templates and checklist, this is intended as a guide only to assist with the negotiation of a native title mining agreement. This does not constitute legal advice. The issues and questions set out are of a general nature and may not reflect your specific circumstances. There may be additional and important issues that should be covered by an agreement in your specific circumstances, depending on the nature of the arrangement you wish to enter into and the circumstances of the contracting parties. If you or your organisation has a legal problem you should obtain professional advice from a legal practitioner.

For more information, contact Michael Pagsanjan (michael@mpslaw.com.au).