Hierarchy of Documents
Adams Stirling PLC


Common interest developments have a number of documents controlling the development. Not all documents are created equal--some have more authority than others. As provided for in Civil Code §4205 (effective January 1, 2014)  the hierarchy of authority is as follows:

  1.  Law (unless the particular statute defers to governing documents)
  2.  CC&Rs
  3.  Articles of Incorporation
  4.  Bylaws
  5.  Rules & Regulations. The exception to rules being in last place is that election rules adopted pursuant to Senate Bill 323 (effective January 1, 2020) may contain provisions that supersede bylaws and CC&Rs. (See Election Timeline and Candidate Qualifications.) Discretionary changes in election rules still require membership approval.

Although not specifically covered by the Davis-Stirling Act, a similar hierarchy would apply to elections, recalls, meetings, officers and directors, etc.:

  1.  Law (unless the particular law defers to the bylaws).CC&Rs (to the extent they address corporate issues). Corporate matters should not be found in CC&Rs but older documents sometimes have them. Newer CC&Rs are careful to segregate property obligations and restrictions to the CC&Rs and corporate matters to the Bylaws.
  2.  Articles of Incorporation.
  3.  Bylaws.
  4.  Election Rules. (See note above about specific provisions required by SB 323 prevailing when in conflict with other documents.)
  5.  Parliamentary Procedures. "Aside from rules of parliamentary procedure and particular rules of an assembly, the actions of any deliberative body are also subject to applicable procedural rules prescribed by local, state, or national law and would be null and void if in violation of such law." (Robert's Rules, 11th ed., pp. 3-4.)

Internal Conflicts. Conflicts between provisions in the same document can often be resolved by applying general rules of interpretation.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC