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Standing Orders of the Court

The standard operating procedures of the Court.


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Approval date
27 Jan 2022
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These Standing Orders set out how the University Court conduct its business and discharges its functions as set out in section 15 of the University Statutes.


1.1 Members of Court are appointed and re-appointed in accordance with the provisions of University Statute 13 (The Court), Ordinance 6 (The Court) and the Framework for Elections and Appointments to Court.

1.2 Under section 13.3(c) of the Statutes, any member of Court who resigns during their term of office should submit their resignation in writing to the Secretary to Court. Members appointed ex-officio are unable to resign. 1.3 Under the provisions of article 11 of the University Charter, members of Court represent the interests of the University’s constituencies. They take collective responsibility in exercising their power under Charter to make representations to the Council on any matter affecting the University.

1.4 The Head of Governance acts as Secretary to Court (the Secretary) and is supported in that function by other members of staff in the Governance Office. These officers are not members of Court.


2.1 Article 5 of the University Charter prescribes that Court is chaired by the University Chancellor. In the absence of the Chancellor, under article 6 of the University Charter, a Pro-Chancellor shall take the chair, according to the principles of seniority set out in section 4 of the Statutes.

2.2 Under the University Charter, it is not possible for the chairing of Court to be further delegated: in the absence of a Pro-Chancellor, therefore, the meeting of Court should be postponed to a future named date.

2.3 The Chair has absolute discretion on procedure within the parameters set out in these Standing Orders, Charter, Statutes and Ordinances but this may be reversed if two thirds of the members present and voting so decide.


3.1 When members of Court are unable to attend a meeting, their apologies should be submitted in advance to the Secretary and shall be recorded in the minutes.

3.2 Meetings of Court may be in-person, virtual or hybrid. Irrespective of format, all meetings are subject to all provisions set out in these Standing Orders.

3.3 Where a meeting is held in-person, arrangements will be made to facilitate the virtual attendance of members who would otherwise be unable to attend, for example, for health reasons or because they are located abroad. Any member wishing to attend in this capacity should notify the Secretary in advance. They will be deemed to have attended the meeting, will be counted in the quorum, and can vote; the minutes will record the nature of their attendance.

3.4 If an ex-officio member of Court is unable to attend any meeting of Court, they may nominate an alternate to attend in their place. No other member of Court may nominate an alternate.

3.5 Attendance at all or part of a Court meeting for anyone other than members or officers of Court, is by invitation only, subject to the approval of the Chair.

3.6 The quorum of a meeting of Court is 31; the Chair is counted towards the quorum.

3.7 If the meeting becomes inquorate, discussions may continue but no decisions can be taken.


4.1 Under the provisions of section 15 of the Statutes, Court shall meet at least once in every academic year and within fifteen months of the preceding meeting at such day and hour as may be determined by the Council.

4.2 The Secretary to Court must give all members of the Court at least 28 days’ notice of any ordinary meeting of Court. Notice must include an indication of likely items of business for the meeting.

4.3 Special meetings of Court can be convened by the Chair, or on the formal signed request of a minimum of 31 members of Court, to dispose of any urgent and unforeseen business that cannot wait until the next scheduled ordinary meeting. The request must specify the nature of the business, which must be proper to the functions of Court, as set out in section 15 of the Statutes.

4.4 Special meetings must take place no sooner than 14 days and no longer than 28 days after notice of the special meeting has been issued to Court by the Secretary.

4.5 The Chair has the power to adjourn a meeting temporarily, or to another date. Their reasons for doing so must be notified to Court and recorded in the minutes.


5.1 The Secretary compiles the agenda for all meetings of Court on behalf of and in conjunction with the Chair and having consulted the Chair of Council and the Vice-Chancellor.

5.2 The agenda for ordinary meetings of Court must contain all items necessary to the fulfilment of the functions of Court, as set out in section 15 of the Statutes.

5.3 Members of Court may propose supplementary items of business for inclusion on the agenda of an ordinary meeting. They should be proper to the functions of Court as set out in section 15 of the Statutes. Supplementary items must be submitted no later than 21 days before the date of the meeting, along with any accompanying papers.

5.4 The Chair has discretion over the inclusion of supplementary items of business on the agenda, though must advise Court of the basis for any decision to reject a supplementary item of business proposed for inclusion by any member of Court under 5.3, above.

5.5 Meeting papers must be submitted to the Secretary no later than 21 days before the date of an ordinary meeting of Court. Authors of papers should follow guidance for the preparation of Court papers, including by seeking advice on the content of papers at an early stage in the process, as necessary.

5.6 The Secretary must issue an agenda and papers for an ordinary meeting of Court no later than 14 days before the date of the meeting. The deadline for the issuing of agenda and papers for special meetings is 48 hours before the meeting.

5.7 Court is digital by default. All circulations will therefore be in electronic format, unless a request for a paper copy is submitted to the Governance Office no later than ten days before the date of the meeting.

5.8 No business can be considered at a special meeting except that which gives rise to the meeting and is specified within the notice of meeting issued by the Secretary. All other matters must be retained for consideration at the next ordinary meeting of Court.


6.1 Court operates on the principle of transparency, unless there is good reason to impose confidentiality.

6.2 The author of any paper containing confidential information should mark it “confidential” and it should not be shared with any person outside Court without the approval of the Chair.

6.3 Court members are responsible for ensuring the secure storage and disposal of confidential Court documents, whether in electronic or paper form.


7.1 The proper conduct of the business of the University requires that members of Court should both act and be perceived to act impartially, and not be influenced in their role by any personal, social or business relationship.

7.2 A member of Court, or group of members of Court, with any direct or indirect personal or financial interest in any matter under discussion by Court should declare that interest to the Chair at the earliest opportunity, either before or during the meeting. All such declarations must be recorded in the minutes by the Secretary.

7.3 By default, members of Court with an interest in a particular item of business should withdraw whilst that item is under consideration. Exceptionally, at the discretion of the Chair, they may remain to participate in the discussion but not to vote.

7.4 In the event of a decision taken by correspondence, members of Court with an interest in a particular item of business should not be counted amongst the responses.

7.5 The Chair’s ruling on a matter of interests is final.


8.1 The order of business can be varied, and items of substantive business deferred to a future meeting, with the consent of Court.

8.2 Items can be taken without notice under “Matters arising” or “Any Other Business” at the discretion of the Chair. In exercising their discretion, the Chair will consider whether the item is proper to the functions of Court as set out in section 15 of the Statutes.

8.3 Court should proceed by consensus wherever possible, resorting to formal procedural mechanisms only when all other solutions have been exhausted.

8.4 Where consensus is not possible, a member of Court may move a formal motion, or amendment to a formal motion, providing that it is proper to the functions of Court as set out in section 15 of the Statutes. Motions should be proposed by one member and seconded by another member.

8.5 The Chair has discretion to accept or reject for debate a formal motion, or an amendment to a formal motion, moved by a member of Court, and to determine the order in which amendments and motions are taken. In exercising their discretion, they will have regard to the functions of Court as set out in section 15 of the Statutes.

8.6 Proceedings on any amendments must be completed before any decision is taken on the substantive motion [as amended]. Where there is more than one motion, the motion under consideration must be disposed of before proceedings on any subsequent motions are embarked upon.

8.7 Members may raise a point of order on a perceived breach of Standing Orders; University Charter, Statutes and Ordinances, or statute or common law, and are entitled to be heard immediately on that point. The ruling of the Chair on points of order is final.


9.1 Decisions should normally be made on the basis of consensus. A formal vote can be held where the Chair deems it appropriate, or if requested by a member of Court and supported by at least 14 other members.

9.2 Formal voting normally takes place by show of hands for those attending in person, and by electronic ballot for those attending virtually. Where a vote takes place both in person and electronically, the two results must be added together. The Secretary acts as teller and may be assisted in this function by other officers.

9.3 Only members of Court can vote, unless they are precluded from doing so by a conflict of interest. The Chair does not vote other than in the event that a casting vote is required.

9.4 Voting is normally by simple majority of those members of Court present and voting with the Chair exercising a casting vote in the event of a tie. Amendments to Charter under section 15.2(c) of the Statutes require a two thirds majority of those present and voting.

9.5 The Secretary must record the number of votes cast for and against any proposition, and the number of abstentions and no votes in the minutes of the meeting.

9.6 In exceptional cases, if an urgent decision of Court is required between meetings, a decision can be taken electronically, providing that all members of Court have been consulted and a minimum of 31 have responded, and providing that there is a minimum interval of seven days between the circulation of any proposal and the date on which a decision is required. The Secretary is responsible for the conduct of any decisions taken by correspondence, including keeping accurate records, and reporting the decision to the subsequent meeting of Court.


10.1 The Secretary is responsible for the recording of the minutes of proceedings of all formal meetings of Court.

10.2 Minutes of Court meetings must be approved by the Chair before being circulated to Court. The minutes must then be approved [as amended] by Court at the subsequent meeting as a true and accurate record and signed by the Chair at the end of the academic year.

10.3 Draft minutes are published on the Court’s website as soon as practicable after they have been approved by the Chair. Confirmed minutes will be published on the website within 28 days after approval by Court.

10.4 The minute in relation to any items treated as confidential under section 6, above, may be redacted by the Secretary before publication, as appropriate to maintain confidentiality.

10.5 Where a meeting is held virtually, a recording of the meeting may be made in order to assist in the production of an accurate minute.


11.1 Amendments to Standing Orders can be made by a simple majority of members of Court present and voting.

11.2 Amendments to Standing Orders do not take effect until the conclusion of the meeting at which the decision to amend them was taken.

11.3 The Standing Orders should be noted by Court at each of its meetings and should be subject to formal review on a triennial basis.

Approved by Court
27th January 2022


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