If your committee is considering organising a conference, you should complete a conference proposal form.
No committee should hold a conference other than one relating to the particular field of law with which that committee is concerned. Ideally committee members should be canvassed by the committee chair, listing the proposed subject matter, venue and time of year, and asking if committee members would wish to attend such an event.
The IBA reserves the right to take the final decision on whether a conference may be organised, including matters of venue, time of year, and viability of a proposed topic. Conferences need to support themselves financially, and any decision on whether or not to hold a conference will ultimately be taken by the IBA and Division Officers.
How do committees organise a conference?
It is essential that full co-ordination is maintained with the IBA. A proposal including date, venue and topic is to be submitted at least 10 months before it is proposed that the conference take place. Submission at the earliest possible time is encouraged, as conference slots (based on availability of staff) for popular times of year such as March-May are often filled as early as 12 months in advance.
A timetable of action dates will be prepared by the IBA, and regular conference calls will also be scheduled in order to discuss programme and topic / progress of speaker confirmations. The IBA will also prepare a marketing plan, which will be sent to the conference chair and organising committee for comments and suggestions.
The conference budget will be prepared by the IBA. Additional expenditure can only be added with the prior approval of the SPPI Officers, sought through the Head of Divisions Administration. As discussed in the budget section, income from the specialist conference is part of the overall income of the IBA and does not go into the section or committee budget.
What is the role of host/organising committees?
The formation of a local host/organising committee is most useful and usually local committee members are glad to be invited to participate. Their role is to advise on local publicity, social programmes, the names of local dignitaries who should be invited, and sometimes, to find a sponsor(s) for social functions in conjunction with the IBA Head of Advertising and Sponsorship.The IBA may rely quite heavily on the local knowledge and experience of these committee members, so a level of commitment is needed. Members of the host/organising committee are acknowledged in the conference programme. [Please note: any organising committee or planning committee over 25 members shall not receive acknowledgement in the programme.]
Who is responsible for liaising with IBA Staff regarding conferences?
The conference chair(s) is responsible for liaising with the assigned conference staff on the venue, the marketing plan, the timetable and the programme content. Furthermore, they are responsible for ensuring the IBA conference organiser receives all relevant programme copy, speakers’ details, and any other relevant information for the conference programme by the set deadlines. The conference chair and host/organising committee members are required to assist the IBA Marketing department with the successful promotion of the conference. The conference chair and host/organising committee members are expected to attend the conference in its entirety.
What are the options for organising one or two day conferences?
There are a number of options that committees wishing to organise conferences may follow, which are outlined below:
Conferences fully organised through IBA offices
With this option the full logistical and financial responsibility for the conference lies with the IBA office. There are many specialist conferences in the IBA calendar that employ this method of working and that have gained “must attend” status in the international legal community. These conferences follow the general rules below:
- IBA appoints a full-time conference team (comprising one organiser and one administrator) to the conference who oversee all arrangements in consultation with the conference organising committee;
- a realistic amount of staff time (charged at £29/hour) is included in the budget;
- the venue is generally a 5-star hotel;
- preliminary programme is published and circulated in hard copy as well as emailed;
- lunch (either 3 courses or a substantial buffet) is offered on both days of the conference;
- coffee breaks include pastries;
- speakers’ papers provided via a website link;
- IBA staff present throughout conference;
- registration fees often include the cost of a cocktail reception.
Conferences fully organised through IBA offices – with lower registration fees
This option is recommended for first-time conferences that have not as yet had a chance to establish a loyal following, or for conferences whose market require a lower registration fee. It is similar to Option A above but in attempts to offer registration fees at a slightly lower rate, consideration is given to the following:
- Selection of a reasonably priced venue (i.e. not 5-star deluxe);
- Standing buffet for lunch rather than sit-down 3 courses;
- Do not offer pastries with coffee / tea or other additional extras;
- Removes all social functions from the budget.
Conferences jointly organised with another organisation
This option involves working together with another organisation. The tasks are split and the financial responsibility divided in accordance with the division of tasks. A typical division of tasks might be as follows:
IBA Conference Department
- Budget preparation, registration fee calculation / final account and analysis
- Publication of flyers and programmes; marketing of the conference
- Liaison with speakers including production of speaker materials
IBA Committee Officers
- Creation of conference programme, titled, description and securing speakers, all likely in cooperation with the co-sponsoring organisation
Co-sponsoring Organisation (or possibly members of the organising committee)
- Venue search and negotiation of contract
- Marketing of the conference
- Processing of registration fees and payment of registration fees
- On-site administration.
Note: this option can be confusing; the division of tasks must be clear from the outset. In order for this option to fall in with other organisations’ policies, some flexibility is required with both organisational policies and IBA staff time, which is often not included in the budget.
As noted above, only the IBA may agree that a conference can be jointly organised with another organisation. IBA staff will be happy to help, please contact the Conferences Director (firstname.lastname@example.org), with the relevant details.
Locally Organised Conference
This option is generally only approved for conferences taking place in locations where the registration fee must be kept to a low level eg. Africa. It requires minimal amount of IBA staff time, but does require dedication and time commitment from committee members / members of the organising committee and a local organisation who are responsible for all organisational and logistical arrangements. The IBA office is on hand to provide guidance and advice and retains responsibility for producing the conference programme (in order to provide the IBA branding) but everything else is the responsibility of a local organisation and a local host committee. All contracts, budgets and registration fees must be approved by the IBA.
This option does put a huge amount of responsibility and workload on the organisers and must be considered carefully before a commitment is made. However, this is an excellent option to keep registration fees to an absolute minimum. The financial responsibility and profit / loss would be discussed at the outset. Please contact Julie Elliott, the Conference Director, for more information.
Do conference chairs and organising committees pay registration fees?
The Conference Chair’s registration fees and the organising committee members’ registration fees are not waived except when exceptional circumstances prevail and with approval of the LPD Treasurer.
All committee events/activities/projects need to be communicated to the IBA office, prior these being executed or run, as part of the planning, to ensure they follow the correct approach and IBA guidelines