A guide to meeting minutes: when, why and how to take minutes

Why meeting minutes?

Meeting minutes are universally recognised as a record of the decisions and decision-making process made during meetings and are typically recorded by a secretary or other designated employee. Meeting minutes, in particular those of the Board of Directors, are also recognised in courts and by auditors as legal documents. In many instances if a company needs to go to court to defend or deny a position, the court will rely on meeting minutes. If a decision made by the company was not recorded in the meeting minutes, it can be considered evidence in court as if it did not take place.

When to take minutes?

The question of when to take minutes varies according to many different factors, including: the type of meeting, the region where the meeting took place, the sector of the organisation, and the organisation’s individual constitution. As a result, before a board meeting of any type takes place, it is important for all parties involved to understand the significance of the meeting, each member’s role in it and their respective legal duties.

For instance, in France, the official recommendation of the IFA, the Institut Français des Administrateurs, is to formalise meeting minutes of the Board. ICSA, the Governance Institute, on the other hand, defines Board meetings specifically as the "highest form of internal decision-making of an organisation." According to this definition, meeting minutes are considered the most accurate internal record of those meetings for that individual organisation, and not recorded explicitly for the interpretation by a third-party.

So, what are the elements that should be taken into consideration with regards to the style and format of the meeting minutes? Who approves the meeting minutes once these have been taken? How are minutes published, and who has access to them afterwards?

Download the guide to get an overview of these details. You will also gain access to a checklist of taking minutes, and some examples of real-life applications to meeting minutes.

A guide to meeting minutes: when, why and how to take minutes

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