PPAU delivers application to PPI Court of Arbitration

PPAU delivers application to PPI Court of Arbitration

On Friday 19 December 2014, Pirate Party Australia (PPAU) submitted a formal application to the Pirate Parties International (PPI) Court of Arbitration relating to future affiliation fees of PPI. A copy of that application was provided to leaders of other Pirate Parties and publicised in the relevant channels on the PirateIRC network.

The application contends that no conclusive vote was conducted at the Paris 2014 General Assembly conference to establish a mechanism for determining affiliation fees. Under Article XVI(2) of the PPI Statutes, fees must be fixed according to the finances and membership of member parties. The second ground is that the motion in favour of fees did not meet the two-thirds majority of members required by Article XI(2).

Further to this, PPAU raises issues relating to PPI’s banking capabilities, referring to minutes that indicate PPI is currently not in a position to begin receiving fees. Recent minutes of PPI board meetings suggest that PPI’s banking arrangements are presently uncertain, with the Board divided over the legitimacy of certain accounts it ostensibly controls.

PPAU has sought an order from the Court of Arbitration clarifying how membership fees ought to be determined and determining that the General Assembly did not validly pass a motion to institute membership fees, among some other cursory and procedural issues.

PPAU has requested that the Court of Arbitration orders an interim injunction immediately preventing the Board from requesting or accepting membership fees until the application is resolved. The complaint also seeks an injunction preventing the Board from requesting affiliation fees if the Board is found to be in breach of Article XVII(3) by not soundly managing PPI’s finances.

Josef Collentine, the International Contact for the Swedish Pirate Party, has already expressed his scepticism of the application. In an email to the Pirate Party Leaders discussion mailing list, he suggested that the application would not achieve much and “is just abusing the current mess PPI is in”, encouraging “PPAU to withdraw this complaint for the greater good of PPI.” Collentine asked what the “real motive” behind the application was, implying it may be designed to cause internal chaos or avoid paying fees.

In a reply to this, Brendan Molloy, President of Pirate Party Australia, stated that the application “is about all members having an understanding of just what status PPI has regarding fees, as the minutes themselves are unclear.” The timing of the application was apparently the result of the PPI Board discussing affiliation fees, something that Molloy alleges the Board had told him would not be actioned until the next General Assembly meeting. Molloy wrote that “by demonstrating the actual state of PPI, other members [may] understand just why we believe it is necessary for an online GA as soon as possible”.

PPAU has not yet received a formal response from the Court of Arbitration. It is difficult to predict how the Court of Arbitration will handle the application. In the past it has made controversial rulings to permit ordinary membership of the Catalonian Pirate Party and to uphold the validity of the 2012 General Assembly despite several procedural errors, arguably taking the “greater good” approach encouraged by Collentine. Neither decision was well-received, with the Swiss Pirate Party threatening legal action against PPI. Changes to the operation and composition of the Court of Arbitration since 2012 are likely to influence the outcome of the application. Pirate Times reported after the 2014 General Assembly conference that the 2013–2014 CoA had not made any rulings. The 2014–2015 Court of Arbitration does not appear to have either, so this will be the first application to be dealt with for more than two years.

PPAU has had a rocky relationship with PPI for several years. At its July 2014 National Congress, PPAU members were presented with a formal motion titled “Conditional withdrawal from Pirate Parties International.” That motion, passed by 92% of members who voted, granted permission to the National Council to withdraw from PPI if any of a number of conditions were not met by 31 January 2015. Conditions included the holding of an online General Assembly, equal ability to participate for remote delegates, restrictions on Board nominees, an improved voting method, and several other provisions to enhance PPI’s democratic and participative operation. A stipulation was that the Board must remain stable and not suffer any resignations.

It seems unlikely that these conditions will be met: no online General Assembly is currently being planned for before 31 January, and the statutes are unlikely to be amended before the Warsaw General Assembly conference in July 2015. A PPI Board member has told Pirate Times in confidence that they are contemplating a resignation in early January.

Pirate Times will publish a follow up article when the CoA provides its ruling. The PPI Board has been contacted for comment.