Must I keep what I am being charged a secret?

Do suppliers have a right of confidentiality?

Didn't find your answer?

I am a member of a national club and I want the committee to tell its members details of what it has been spending

They are claiming that they cannot tell us because that would break confidentiality, and the club might be sued for revealing this information

If the club signed a secrecy agreement that is one thing, but what is the general principle?


Replies (14)

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By tom123
08th Sep 2023 08:08

I don't think confidentiality (for trading etc, not payroll) is a presumption. I wouldn't be breaking any rules telling you how much I spend on utilities, school catering contract etc. My suppliers might not want me to, but I haven't signed anything to say I won't.

That is why one often signs specific non disclosure agreements when embarking on big projects.

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By David Ex
08th Sep 2023 08:57

davidross wrote:

If the club signed a secrecy agreement that is one thing, but what is the general principle?


Not aware of anything that applies generally - to commercial transactions at least. GDPR might be of some relevance where individuals are involved.

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By Ruddles
08th Sep 2023 09:00

davidross wrote:
details of what it has been spending

That is a little vague. Exactly what information are you after over and above what is in the accounts?

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
08th Sep 2023 09:07

Hmm, great way for the committee to make it sound like something fishy is going on when it's probably not.

They probably just dont want to bother with the questions.

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By Jason Croke
08th Sep 2023 09:13

I thought that member clubs see the members as the "owners" and the committee is elected to best represent the members interests?

I'd ask the committee to supply you a copy of the non-disclosure agreement the committee has with (all) its suppliers and failing that, I'd ask them to quote to you the legislation they are relying upon.

Often people will try and fob you off with "the law says I can/can't do this" and so my go to response is always "point me in the direction of the legislation /rule/by-law" and if they cannot give you a reference or pointer then they are flat out talking rubbish. If they do give you the law reference or club rule, then you can at least then research the topic and enlighten yourself as to the reasons why.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
By Tax Dragon
08th Sep 2023 23:15

Re-post (so potential duplicate):

That (polite adjectives fail me) approach might work in the narrow world of whether I have to charge you VAT and you can't give me chapter on verse on why I mustn't, but it's hardly a go to for real life.

Say I don't (for whatever reason - which may simply be ignorance) want to do something. The law doesn't have to prevent me from doing it for me not to do it. You want me to? You tell me why I should (or even must) do it.

Besides which, if I do happen to have legal advice that says I can't, that advice will itself be privileged (probably) - and you ain't seeing that.

Besides besides which, if I don't happen to have legal advice already, and you provide some evidence that I have to do this thing that I don't want to do, then I may be inclined to want to get legal advice before I do it. In OP's case, that's going to cost the club - which cost might have to be borne by the members, including the OP.

Or I might just say no anyway and let you put your money where you mouth is and initiate proceedings.

So... I'm not saying you're wrong, but I don't think you're right either.

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By FrankTax
08th Sep 2023 09:35

I'd say the members are entitled to see, as a minimum, accounts detailing income and expenses.

The committee are spending members money and should be accountable.

Any "clubs" I've been involved in the committee is appointed by the membership, the members also have the powers to remove committee members.

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By lionofludesch
08th Sep 2023 12:21

Sounds very much like a legal question to me but, equally, sounds like blocks too.

As Jason says, ask them what law says that.

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paddle steamer
08th Sep 2023 15:36

If you equate committee to directors and members to shareholders it soon becomes apparent that whilst say an I & E is appropriate to be provided a breakdown down to the level of say individual invoices within an I & E likely is not. (IMHO)

I would also mention that in a lot of these cases the committee member is doing this unpaid (I am such a one), if the members start wanting every item disclosed then frankly I have better things to do with my life than pander to their wishes and they can take on the role and I will step down (And in a lot of clubs whilst there are a million backseat drivers there are few volunteering to get behind the wheel and put in the unpaid graft)

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Replying to DJKL:
By zebaa
08th Sep 2023 22:08

I think it depends on what the question is and the level of detail required. My take on this, when a question was posed by a member, was to get back to them with the information. Some things I would not disclose, like a persons wage, but the total wage bill could be seen in the accounts for example. On the other hand how much a builder was paid to build an extension should be disclosed, if the accounts bundle it into a more general heading. Like I say, it depends. In general keeping secrets in a membership organisation can be counter productive and is bad practice IMO.

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Replying to zebaa:
By Hugo Fair
08th Sep 2023 22:29

The biggest red flag isn't " *how much* a builder was paid to build an extension" ... it's the things that cannot be ascertained from the accounts - like:
* how the builder was chosen (open process)?
* whether builder was known to a committee member (conflict)?

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
paddle steamer
09th Sep 2023 14:40

May be a conflict but often with the sums involved you just get someone who is prepared to do the work and often that is someone known to a committee member, has done work for one of them etc.

I am property convener for a fishing club, we own our own premises, frankly I am not going to waste my time getting three quotes for everything, members either accept the process or get off their ***** and do it themselves and I then stop giving away my time for nothing. e.g. tomorrow, unpaid , I will be running up to the club with a mower in the boot and will cut the grass in the club's back garden.

Everyone understands in an ideal world x checks and y balances would be involved in the process, reality is that if clubs insist upon such red tape nobody will be prepared to run the place- getting unpaid committee members with appropriate skills is hard for most not for profits (Why I spent over 20 years as treasurer of an after school club, it took years to find, within the parent base, anyone with both accounting knowledge and willingness to take on the role.)

In clubs there are very often those that do and those that gripe, it comes with the territory, but that does not mean one needs to pander to them.

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By paul.benny
10th Sep 2023 10:02

Nice discussion and some good points made. Over to the OP - give us some more information.

What's the scale of the organisation? Do they circulate accounts to members - and what does the constitution say? Do you have specific concerns (eg committee receiving lavish "expenses"), etc.

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Replying to paul.benny:
By Ruddles
10th Sep 2023 11:09

Agreed. A lot of people are spending (potentially wasting) a lot of time answering when we really don’t know what the question is. Until the OP has the decency to respond and tell us what it is that he really wants to see it all seems a bit pointless to me.

There, that’s another 30s that I won’t get back.

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