J'ACCUSE........J'ACCUSE ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
The use of club funds for a costly and unnecessary legal defence does , in my view , warrants severe condemnation. Any club chairman who sets out to persuade the membership to back such a foolish course of action , rather than seek other far less costly options on offer , should now hang his/her head in shame.
If members knew or realised that outcomes of trials are unpredictable , and that money spent in mounting a vigorous and robust legal defence is never likely to be recovered , then such a course of action is pure insanity. What gambler would bet on an outcome where even if he backs a winner he wins nothing and loses his stake money.
Moreover , if the chairman had been asked to pay these exorbitant legal costs from his/her own pocket , then I'm more than certain another course of action would have been chosen , such as a quick resolution through mediation , or an offer to the plaintiff to drop the action in return for getting a proportion of the damages sought after.
Why the chairman and committee failed to undertake a cost benefit analysis of a long drawn out legal defense beggars belief. If one considers the opportunity costs involved in a club wasting over £130,000 in lawyers' fees , then one would surely end up being racked with guilt , shame and deep embarrassment : a new club house , new facilities , funds for marketing ( and promoting the game to encourage new members ) , sound a much more sensible use of such money. The secured long-term future of the club is, and always will be , of paramount importance.
Sometimes one has to choose the lesser of two evils : pay out a few thousand to a plaintiff who perhaps doesn't deserve a penny , or pay out tens of thousands to lawyers.... who then advise you to accept a hands-down offer to walk away from the dispute , indicating that the judge is far more likely to make each side pay their costs.
I once heard of a club spending an obscene amount of money on private investigators in an attempt to unearth and track down the author of a series of poison pen letters , when the sensible option was to simply ignore them. So why in God's name spend a six-figure sum on fighting a wrongful expulsion law suit , when a simple reinstatement or begrudging pay off was all that was required. When inmates have taken over the asylum , someone has to step up to the mark and allow common sense to prevail over raw emotions if fuelled by crass stubbornness , prejudice and pride.
Moral : if you are going to be wrong , do it after careful consideration.
Committee members should always be conscious of the conflict between their personal interests and those of the club. Moreover, they should continuously examine the proposed actions like embarking upon , and continuing with , a dogged and determined legal defence. Is such an action really meeting the club's core objectives ? These of course include (i) staying financially viable , (ii) investing funds for the future development of the game , (iii) up grading the club's facilities and (iv) putting funds aside for other capital expenditure projects.
The answer any sane man or woman would give is an emphatic " no ".
Such expenditure , which to the casual observer seems a colossal risk and a complete waste of money , is both utterly irresponsible and unacceptable , no matter honourable the motives and intentions appeared to be at the outset. Litigation is the road to financial ruin : the folly of fools.
Serving on a committee carries with it a significant legal responsibility. Common sense can take one very far in conducting club activities properly. Listening to advice from all quarters , especially from those who urge on the side of caution and prudence , can help protect one's position. Care , loyalty and fidelity in all committee actions represent the best form of financial protection for the club. The chairman must therefore strive be the guiding influence and voice of common sense and reason.
On breach of that duty I accuse.......I accuse