Parliamentary authority

A parliamentary authority is a book of rules on conducting business in deliberative assemblies. A group generally creates its own rules and then adopts such a book to cover meeting procedure not covered in its rules. Different books have been used by organizations and by legislative assemblies.

Application to organizations

A parliamentary authority is a book of rules on conducting business in deliberative assemblies.[1] A group generally creates its own rules and then adopts such a book to cover meeting procedure not covered in its rules.[2][3][4] This set of rules is called parliamentary procedure. Rules in a parliamentary authority can be superseded by the group's constitution or bylaws or by adopted procedural rules (with a few exceptions). The adopted procedural rules may be called special rules of order.[5]

Assemblies that do not adopt a parliamentary authority may use an existing parliamentary authority by custom, or may consider themselves governed by the “common parliamentary law”, or “common law of parliamentary procedure”.[5][6] A society that has adopted bylaws that do not designate a parliamentary authority may adopt one by the same vote required to adopt special rules of order.[2] A mass meeting can adopt a parliamentary authority by a majority vote.[2] The book, Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, states, “In matters on which an organization's adopted parliamentary authority is silent, provisions found in other works on parliamentary law may be persuasive – that is, they may carry weight in the absence of overriding reasons for following a different course – but they are not binding on the body.”[5]

Survey of usage in organizations

A poll by Jim Slaughter surveyed North American Certified Professional Parliamentarians (CPPs) in 1999 to ask what percent of clients used each parliamentary authority.[7] The results were published in 2000 in Parliamentary Journal, the official journal of the American Institute of Parliamentarians: 90 percent used Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), 8 percent used The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (formerly Sturgis, now AIPSC), and 3 percent used some other authority, including Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure (Demeter), Riddick's Rules of Procedure (Riddick/Butcher), Bourinot's Rules of Order (Bourinot), and Rules of Order (Davis).[7] Bourinot was used in Canada.[8]

Robert's Rules of Order

Robert's Rules of Order was first published in 1876 by Henry Martyn Robert. It has been revised several times by the original author and then by his successors. As of its publication in 2011, the 11th edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised is the current official edition of the body of work known as "Robert's Rules of Order".[9] This body of work is the most popular and well-known parliamentary authority in North America.[7]

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure was first published in 1950 by Alice Sturgis and referred to as TSC or Sturgis. A new book, titled American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (AIPSC), was published in 2012. AIPSC is used by many United States medical associations of physicians and dentists, including the American Medical Association House of Delegates and American Association of Orthodontists as well as by the Association of Flight Attendants and American Library Association.[10][11]

Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure

Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, first published in 1948 by George Demeter, is another parliamentary authority in North America. It is often favored by North American labor unions and many Hellenic organizations.[10][11][12] As of 2016, Demeter is published by the American Institute of Parliamentarians.

Legislative assemblies

Legislative assemblies in all countries, because of their nature, tend to have a specialized set of rules that differ from parliamentary procedure used by clubs and organizations.


The UK Parliament follows Erskine May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (also known as Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice).[13]

The Canadian House of Commons follows Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms.[14] Bourinot's Rules of Order is another book used in Anglophone Canada.[15] In Quebec, the Procédure des assemblées délibérantes (commonly known as Le Code Morin) are rules of order in French.[16]

The Australian House of Representatives follows House of Representatives Practice.[17] The Australian Senate follows Odgers' Australian Senate Practice.[18] Each Australian state and territory house of Parliament has its own set of rules. A number of procedural reference works are used by other organisations in Australia.[19]

Legislatures in the United States

The United States Senate follows the Standing Rules of the United States Senate, while the United States House of Representatives follows its own procedures which includes Jefferson's Manual.

Of the 99 state legislative chambers in the United States (two for each state except Nebraska, which has a unicameral legislature), Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure governs parliamentary procedures in 70; Jefferson's Manual governs 13, and Robert's Rules of Order governs four.[20]

Mason's Manual, originally written by constitutional scholar and former California Senate staff member Paul Mason in 1935, and since his death revised and published by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), governs legislative procedures in instances where the state constitution, state statutes, and the chamber's rules are silent. According to the NCSL, one of the many reasons that most state legislatures use Mason's Manual instead of Robert's Rules of Order is because Robert's Rules applies best to private organizations and civic groups that do not meet in daily public sessions.[20] Mason's Manual, however, is geared specifically toward state legislative bodies.[20]

Legislative bodies at the local level, such as a city council or a county commission, function similarly to boards of societies and as such, have used Robert's Rules of Order.


  1. Gondin, William R. (1969). Dictionary of Parliamentary Procedure. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams. pp. 88, 90.
  2. 1 2 3 Robert 2011, p. 15
  3. Sturgis, Alice (2001). The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th ed., p. 5
  4. National Conference of State Legislatures (2000). Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, p. 28–9
  5. 1 2 3 Robert 2011, pp. 16–17
  6. Mason, p. 30
  7. 1 2 3 Slaughter, Jim; Ragsdale, Gaut; Ericson, Jon L. (2012). Notes and Comments on Robert's Rules (Fourth ed.). Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-8093-3215-1.
  8. Chris Dickey, Parliamentarian, Parliamentary Procedure Consultant
  9. "Get The Right Book". The Official Robert's Rules of Order Web Site. The Robert's Rules Association. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  10. 1 2 "Parliamentary Procedures: Interesting Facts and Tips", University of Illinois.
  11. 1 2 "Become a Parliamentarian - American Institute of Parliamentarians". American Institute of Parliamentarians. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  12. Jim Slaughter, "Businesses Must Follow Parliamentary Procedure," Greensboro News & Record.
  13. "Rules and traditions of Parliament". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  14. Barnhart, Gordon. "Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, Fifth Edition, 1978". Canadian Parliamentary Review. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  15. Banks, Margaret. "New Insights on Bourinot's Parliamentary Publications". Canadian Parliamentary Review. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  16. Delorme, Michel. "Code Morin: procédure des assemblées délibérantes". La librairie Gallimard de Montréal. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  17. "Powers, practice and procedure". Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  18. "Role of the Senate". Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  19. "What are the main authorities or references for meeting procedure in Australia and New Zealand | Master Of Meetings". Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  20. 1 2 3 "Mason's Manual for Legislative Bodies". National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 2016-01-05.

Further reading

Non-legislative authorities

Legislative authorities


Study guides and textbooks

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