Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Committee Definition:

A term of parliamentary law which refers to a body of one or more persons appointed by a larger assembly or society, to consider, investigate and/or take action on certain specific matters.

Related Terms: Standing Committee

A committee only has those powers which have been assigned to it by the constituent assembly.

Most are merely created to study limited matters in detail and to then report to the larger group.

This saves the larger assembly time when it meets and allows it to review and approve a greater number of items, relying on the committee’s report and recommendations to steer them in a specific area.

Committees are either standing or ad hoc (this latter kind is also known as a "special committee").

Henry Robert once wrote, instructively:

"In ordinary societies and conventions a committee is appointed, either for some special purpose, automatically expiring as soon as that purpose is accomplished, or for some general purpose which requires the committee to remain in existence permanently, to take care of all business that may arise of the class assigned to it.

"The first kind of committee is called a special or select committee, because it is selected to attend to some special things, the committee expiring when that thing has been attended to and its final report has been made.

"The other kind is called a standing committee because it is always in existence, the old members not going out of office until their successors are appointed."

Arthur Richards (1885-1978) once said:

"The ideal committee is one with me as chairman and the other two members in bed with the flu."

Also a term used to refer to the guardian appointed by a court of law in the event of lunacy or adult guardianship proceedings in some jurisdictions.


  • Robert, Henry, Parliamentary Law, (New York: Irvington Publishers, 1975), page 244.

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