Following a request last Friday for a ruling on the validity of the “Trial Slate Ban” introduced in Michaelmas 2018, the Union’s Returning Officer, Liam Frahm, has ruled that the trial ban is invalid.

In his ruling Frahm announced: “On Friday 1st February, Brendan McGrath, the Librarian, officially requested a Ruling into the validity of the trial ban on electoral pacts from MT18.”

“Having investigated the Librarian’s allegations, I can firstly confirm that the MT18 Motion was passed without either Rule 67(b)(iv) or Rule 67(b)(v) being invoked.”

He continued: “Having consulted the MT18 Standing Committee Minutes and unequivocally knowing that no requisition was posted, this Motion did not have special attention applied to it.

“Therefore, the Motion holds executive seniority of (3) as special attention applied to it. Therefore, the Motion holds executive seniority of (3) as outlined in Rule 73(A).”

He therefore concluded that “Having established a conflict in the rules, Rule 73 requires that precedence is granted to the rule with greater executive seniority.

“Therefore, as executive seniority is determined by the method by which the Rule is introduced and the HT15 rule was passed with greater seniority than the MT18 rules change, Rule 73 requires that the HT15 rules change take precedence over the MT18 private business motion that introduced rule 33e is ruled invalid.”

Rule 73 says: “In the event of a conflict over a decision concerning a particular policy or the implementation of a particular policy, or concerning amendments to the Rules or Standing Orders, and the Rules and Standing Orders are otherwise silent, the following shall take precedence in the following order of seniority:

(1) A Poll of Members as under Rule 47(f);
(2) A Private Business Motion at a Public Business Meeting to which Rule 67(b)(iv) or Rule 67(b) (v) applies; (3) Other Private Business Motions at a Public Business Meeting or any Special Adjournment Motion, as under Rule 45;
(4) A Private Business Motion at a Private Business Meeting;
(5) The Returning Officer, for the purposes of their duty only, as defined in Rule 32(e) only; (6) A motion of an Ordinary or Emergency Standing Committee;
(7) A motion of a Vacation Standing Committee.”

This means that the previous trial slate ban is no longer in place, and the changes made last term (including the provision for a poll of the members on getting rid of slates next term) are rendered invalid.

The Returning Officer also ruled that changes made to Rule 33 last term are also invalid, and that a number of rulings in response to the trial ban will now need to be reissued by the Returning Officer.

The Oxford Union and Liam Frahm were contacted for comment. Ray Williams and Brendan McGrath declined to comment.