MEETING (from " to meet," to come together, assemble, O. Eng. metan ; cf. Du. moeten, Swed. mota, Goth, gamoljan, etc., derivatives of the Teut. word for a meeting, seen in O. Eng. mot, moot, an assembly of the people; cf. ivitanagemot) , a gathering together of persons for the purpose of discussion or for the transaction of business. Public meetings may be either those of statutory bodies or assemblies of persons called together for social, political or other purposes. In the case of statutory bodies, by-laws usually fix the quorum necessary to constitute a legal meeting. That of limited companies may be either by reference to the capital held, or by a fixed quorum or one in proportion to the number of shareholders. It has been held that in the case of a company it takes at least two persons to constitute a meeting (Sharp v. Daws, 1886, 2 Q.B.D. 26). In the case of public meetings for social, political or other purposes no quorum is necessary. They may be held, if they are for a lawful purpose, in any place, on any day and at any hour, provided they satisfy certain statutory provisions or by-laws made under the authority of a statute for the safety of persons attending such meetings. If, however, a meeting is held in the street and it causes an obstruction those convening the meeting may be proceeded against for obstructing the highway. The control of a meeting and the subjects to be discussed are entirely within the discretion of those convening it, and whether the meeting is open to the public without payment, or subject to a charge or to membership of a specified body or society, those present are there merely by virtue of a licence of the conveners, which licence may be revoked at any time. The person whose licence is revoked may be requested to withdraw from the meeting, and on his refusal may be ejected with such force as is necessary. If he employs violence to those removing him he commits a breach of the peace for which he may be given into custody. An important English act has dealt for the first time with the disturbance of a public meeting. The Public Meeting Act 1908 enacted that any person who at a lawful public meeting acts in a disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business for which the meeting was called together shall be guilty of an offence, and if the offence is committed at a political meeting held in any parliamentary constituency between the issue and return of a writ, the offence is made an illegal practice within the meaning of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1883. Any person who incites another to commit the offence is equally guilty. A public meeting is usually controlled by a chairman, who may be appointed by the conveners or elected by the meeting itself. On the chairman falls the duty of preserving order, of calling on persons to speak, deciding points of order, of putting questions to the meeting for decision, and declaring the result and other incidental matters.
In England it is illegal, by a statute of George III. (Seditious Meetings Act 1817), to hold a public meeting in the open air within i m. of Westminster Hall during the sitting of Parliament.
See C. P. Blackwell's Law of Meetings (1910).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)