To: World Service Conference Participants
From: World Board
Date: 29 August 2017
Re: FIPT Inspection Request from the South Florida Region
Hello Conference Participants,
As you may know, the Operational Rules of the Fellowship Intellectual Property Trust (FIPT) describe a process whereby a regional service committee can request to inspect the records and operations of the Trust. Following this cover memo are three documents related to such a request we received from a regional delegate on behalf of his region. These documents are the request from the South Florida Region dated 17 April 2017; our response dated 29 August 2017; and an Addendum, which responds directly to each of the ten Concerns listed in the request. We are forwarding these documents to all Conference participants to keep you updated on this matter and because this is an issue we expect to discuss at the 2018 World Service Conference—both this particular request and the process for making and responding to these types of requests.
We apologize for the legal tone of our response and the Addendum. We would prefer never to have to consult attorneys when responding to members or service bodies. We would much rather resolve issues and concerns within the Fellowship rather than resort to legal means, but when a request involving legal matters is made of World Services, a legal response is both prudent and appropriate.
As the documents that follow explain, after consulting with both our corporate and copyright attorneys, we do not believe all of the Concerns described in the request fall within the purview of a FIPT inspection. We are also awaiting confirmation from the requesting region about their specific concerns. We expect to have more to report before the 2018 World Service Conference, and we will request the guidance of the WSC. We see our role as Trustee not just as a set of legal duties, but fundamentally in terms of spiritual principles. We have been charged with a legal “fiduciary” responsibility, which, simply put, means a position of trust, and we strive to honor that spiritual ideal. Clear reporting and communication are consistent with our commitment to accountability and integrity.
We would also like to have a more general conversation with the Conference about the process for requesting an inspection of the Trust. The FIPT was drafted and approved in 1993, before the restructuring of World Services. When the FIPT was approved, the budget of the World Service Office was separate from that of the World Service Conference, and not under the control of the WSC. The financial structure adopted by the Conference during the restructuring of World Services does not lend
itself to a quick and easy Trust inspection. We do not segregate Trust property in this way; we organize our financials according to the policies adopted by the Conference and as described in A Guide to World Services in NA.
As the FIPT is currently written, a single region can request an inspection of the records and operations of the Trust, and such an inspection can be both time‐consuming and costly. We are not sure this part of the Operational Rules reflects the Conference’s current thinking. A policy that allows a single region to make a decision involving the allocation of so many resources seems contrary to our evolution toward a consensus‐based Conference. This is one of those policies that we have known was outdated and unclear for some time, but have not wanted to drag the Fellowship through a detailed review. The recent inspection request, however, has made it clear we may be overdue to have this conversation.