Insights Blog

The Law Reform Commission (LRC) recently published a Consultation Paper regarding the Liability of Clubs, Societies and other Unincorporated Associations (the “Paper”). The Paper examines issues relating to civil and criminal liability of non-profit unincorporated associations including matters such as regulatory compliance and enforcement. The Paper sets out nine key objectives of law reform in this area. They are:

1. bringing clarity to the law on unincorporated associations;

2. protecting the interests of third parties dealing with unincorporated associations;

3. providing that the assets of an unincorporated association are available to meet its responsibilities;

4. providing that unincorporated associations can be sued in their own names;

5. clarifying the law on personal liability of members;

6. clarifying the applicability of existing legislation to unincorporated associations;

7. ensuring that existing legislation is enforceable in respect of unincorporated associations;

8. removing the impediment to suing a club of which you are a member; and

9. minimising regulatory burdens.

To achieve these objectives, three potential models have been proposed for comment. In summary, these are to develop legislation to:

Model 1: create a “non-profit registered association”, by which separate legal personality could be gained by registration;

Model 2: confer separate legal personality on unincorporated associations that fulfil specified criteria; and,

Model 3: not to confer separate legal personality, but specify how unincorporated associations are to be held liable in contract, tort and for offences, with a series of focused reforms that do not alter the legal status of unincorporated bodies.

The LRC has invited all interested parties to make submissions/comments on the questions that arise in the Paper (including the nine objectives) before close of business on 15 May 2023. The LRC is seeking to understand the issues that unincorporated associations face regarding legal personality and the liability of their members and the observations of unincorporated associations on the proposed approaches to reform.

Full details and consultation paper can be found here.

For those who are interested in finding out more, The Wheel is hosting a webinar on 27 April 2023 examining the consultation paper and the proposed changes by the LRC. Philip Smith (Partner, Arthur Cox) will provide this briefing. The webinar will take place from 12:00-13:00 (IST) on 27 April 2023. If you are interested in attending, please visit The Wheel’s website here.

“The most striking feature of the law in relation to unincorporated associations is that it is unclear. That lack of clarity has consequences in every area of legal activity in which an unincorporated association might be involved….” LRC