The administration and operation of the Guild is democratically determined by its 4,100 members (The actual total of persons involved in the business is considerably higher as the membership lists only heads of families.) Forming the base of the Guild’s structure is a system of ten regional sections covering the whole of Great Britain.
Each section is run by a committee of members, elected annually by secret ballot. The ten sections have their own offices, each managed by a paid staff of officials. Four members from each section committee are appointed to serve on the Central Council, the national governing body of the Guild. In addition to the section delegates, the Central Council includes the six officials of the Guild, all past presidents and the Guild’s legal consultant.
Before a meeting of Central Council, each section is required to hold a General Meeting of members and to take voting instructions from them on the matters listed on the agenda of the council. Most decisions of the Central Council are made by a simple majority on a show of hands, but any variation in the Guild’s rules has to be approved by a card vote, with each section casting a total of votes equal to its membership. To be successful a proposed change must secure the votes of at least two-thirds of the membership.
Some of the Central Council’s powers have been delegated to three main committees; Management, Appeals and Safety.
The Management Committee is responsible for the financial affairs of the Guild; making recommendations on matters to be brought before the Central Council; and for considering any matter that might affect the Guild or its members.
The Appeals Committee forms part of a process which is fundamental to the constitution of the Guild. Should any member
feel that either his, or the Guild’s interests have been infringed by another member or section, he can invoke the Guild’s rules. His complaint is brought before the appropriate section committee, who, having heard all evidence, have the power to adjudicate and impose penalties.
All decisions of the section committee are subject to the review of the Appeals Committee if one of the parties to the complaint is dissatisfied. Should the judgement of the Appeals Committee be unacceptable, the objector has the right to refer the case to an Appeals Tribunal. Consisting of a barrister and two past presidents of the Guild, this is the final court of appeal within the Guild.