The Annual General Meeting of the Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation ("KCTMO") has been adjourned for 21 days to allow for further consultation with Members, after pressure from lawyers acting for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
KCTMO is a company limited by guarantee, a form of corporate personality where members do not hold shares. At present, all members have to be residents of a TMO-managed property. The TMO has responsibility for managing the council-owned properties in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea ("RBK&C"). After the tragic events of the fire at Grenfell Tower in June of this year, the TMO has been subjected to fierce criticism from a number of victims and other groups. RBK&C recently indicated its intention to bring to an end the TMO's role in managing the properties.
Prior to the AGM, the TMO's board had proposed that it should seek to terminate its Management Agreement with RBK&C. It was further proposed that, on termination, RBK&C should become the sole Member of the TMO, and have the sole right to appoint its board.
A number of Members, including victims of the Grenfell fire, were concerned that this would limit the TMO's accountability for the fire. There were particular concerns over giving RBK&C control over the TMO's participation in the Public Inquiry being conducted by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, and over the possibility that winding up the TMO would inhibit potential civil and criminal proceedings brought by former residents and victims' families. It also emerged that some Members had not received notice of the AGM, possibly because their postal addresses had changed following the fire.
The TMO's Board initially refused to propose an adjournment, but after correspondence from solicitors acting for victims, Bindmans and Bhatt Murphy, a 21-day adjournment was proposed and passed. The victims' groups were advised by Andrew Henshaw QC and Ben Woolgar of Brick Court Chambers, whose urgent Advice (which was distributed to Members prior to the AGM) is available here.
Andrew Henshaw QC and Ben Woolgar were instructed by Shamik Dutta and Mark Scott of Bhatt Murphy and Paul Ridge and Lawrence Barker of Bindmans.