Point of order

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In parliamentary procedure, a point of order occurs when someone draws attention to a rules violation in a meeting of a deliberative assembly.


Explanation and uses

Point of order (RONR)
Class 5
In order when another has the floor?Yes
Requires second?No
Debatable?No (but chair can permit explanation), unless it is submitted to the assembly for a vote
May be reconsidered?No, unless it is submitted to the assembly for a vote
Vote required Is ruled by the chair, unless it is submitted to the assembly for a vote (then it requires a majority vote)

In Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), a point of order may be raised if the rules appear to have been broken. This may interrupt a speaker during debate, or anything else if the breach of the rules warrants it. [1] The point is resolved before business continues.

The point of order calls upon the chair to make a ruling. The chair may rule on the point of order or submit it to the judgment of the assembly. If the chair accepts the point of order, it is said to be ruled "well taken". If not, it is said to be ruled "not well taken". [2]

Generally, a point of order must be raised at the time the rules are broken or else it would be too late. [3] For example, if a motion was made and discussion began on it, it would be too late to raise a point of order that the motion was not seconded. If such a motion was adopted without a second, it remains valid and not having a second becomes irrelevant. [4]

Exceptions to the rule that a point of order must be raised at the time of violation include that a point of order may be raised at any time a motion was adopted in violation of the bylaws or applicable law, in conflict with a previously adopted motion (unless adopted by the vote to rescind it), or in violation of a fundamental principle of parliamentary law. [5]

The ruling of the chair may be appealed to the assembly in most cases. A majority vote against the chair's ruling is required to overturn it. [6]

A point of order is sometimes erroneously used to present a request for information or a parliamentary inquiry. If a member asks such a question, the chair should treat the question as the appropriate request.

Legislative use


Deriving from British practice, in the Australian House of Representatives it continues to be customary for a member raising a point of order while the House is voting to hold a sheet of paper over the top of their head. [7]


In the Indian Parliament, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, a point of order can raised in relation to the business before the House by any member of the parliament. The decision of the Chair is final and no debate is allowed on the point of order, the Chair may hear the members before giving the decision. [8]


In the Irish Oireachtas (parliament), a point of order can be used in relation to order in the assembly. However, the ruling of the chair in this assembly cannot be appealed. [9]

United Kingdom

Until 1998 in the British House of Commons, it was required that a member raising a point of order while the House is voting be wearing a hat so they could be easily seen. Two opera hats were maintained in the House for this purpose. [10] This practice was abolished in accordance with the findings of the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons. [11]

United States

In the United States Senate, the chair's ruling on a point of order may be appealed by any Senator. [12] Points of order with regard to the Budget Act or annual budget resolution may be waived by 35 of the Senate's entire membership. [13] Rule XVI, which prohibits normal legislation in appropriations legislation, may be waived by 23 of the Senate. [13] [14]

The United States House of Representatives also allows points of order and appeals. [15]

See also

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  1. Robert, Henry M.; et al. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. p. 249. ISBN   978-0-306-82020-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. Robert 2011 , p. 253
  3. Robert 2011 , p. 250
  4. Robert III, Henry M.; et al. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. p. 90. ISBN   978-0-306-82019-9.
  5. Robert 2011 , p. 251
  6. Robert 2011 , p. 258
  7. "House of Representatives Practice, 6th Ed – HTML version: Order of business and the sitting day". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  9. "Report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on Parliamentary Standards" (PDF). www.oireachtas.ie. May 12, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2010. Retrieved 2016-02-15. The Chair is the sole judge of order. A ruling of the Chair, once given, must be accepted and may be challenged only by way of substantive motion. It is grossly disorderly to cross-examine the Chair, by way of point of order or otherwise.
  10. "Early day motion 1623 - TOP HATS AND PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  11. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 4 Jun 1998 (pt 19)". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  12. "QUESTIONS OF ORDER - Rules of the Senate - United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration". www.rules.senate.gov. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  13. 1 2 Saturno, James V. (October 20, 2015). "Points of Order in the Congressional Budget Process" (PDF). www.fas.org. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  14. "APPROPRIATIONS AND AMENDMENTS TO GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS BILLS - Rules of the Senate - United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration". rules.senate.gov. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  15. "HOUSE PRACTICE" (PDF). www.gpo.gov. U.S. House of Representatives. 2011. Retrieved 2016-02-16.