A quorum is the minimum number of people required to convene a meeting. As per common law, if the majority of members are present, a meeting can be conveyed. However, if a relevant statute mandates that a certain number of members are necessary to convene a meeting, the statutory requirement should be adopted and followed. If the enabling statute is silent on that question, the body can follow and adhere to the common law rule[i]. The body can act with a simple majority also.
In certain cases, the relevant statute may require a supermajority of the number of persons present for a body to act. Supermajority means a specified number exceeding the minimum needed to produce a majority. In Fred Mix v. City of New Orleans, (126 So. 2d 1), the court clarified that the provision “two-thirds of the members of the Council” means two-thirds of members of the Council and not the two-thirds of all the elected members of the Council. Thus, it is the “number of persons present” and not the “number of elected members” that is material.
The members must be given prior and reasonable notice of meeting and should also be given an opportunity to be present if possible. This is to enable the body to act as a body when a quorum is present. If a meeting is conducted with a minority of the collective body, the relevant statute may provide for a subsequent review of such decisions by the full body. However, such a statutory provision does not mean that concurrence by the majority of full membership is a pre-requisite to the validity of a minority decision.
There may arise vacancies in membership due to death, resignation, ineligibility, failure to qualify, abstention, or incapacity of individual members of the body. But such vacancies in membership will not affect the legality of acts of a public body as long as they are authorized by a majority of its membership constituting a quorum.
[i] F.T.C. v. Flotill Products, Inc.,(389 U.S. 179)