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Ashton & Reid on Clubs and Associations


This fully updated new edition covers important new case-law and recent developments

The diverse activities of clubs, societies and associations present numerous questions for those advising these bodies, with problems ranging from constitutional matters to the field of equality and anti-discrimination regulation. The legal issues can span the interpretation of rules, expulsion procedures, company law, alcohol licensing, the promotion of lotteries, property law, employment, taxation and litigation.

 Ashton & Reid on Clubs and Associations is the definitive guide to the legal framework in which such bodies operate, bringing together the various strands to provide practical legal advice in one convenient source for these bodies and their legal advisors.
 The new edition has been fully updated to cover recent case-law and the coming into force of much new legislation, including:
  • Companies Act 2006
  • Charities Act 2006
  • Gambling Act 2005
  • Co-operative and Community Societies and Credit Unions Act 2010
  • Equality Act 2010
In addition, the work includes a full set of model rules for members’ clubs, the 2008 model company articles of association and other useful material in the appendices.

Formation and Dissolution of the Club

  • Formation of the club
  • The club’s constitution or rules
  • Dissolution of the club

Internal Relationships: The Club and its Members

  • Admission into the club
  • Management of the club’s affairs
  • Meetings of club members
  • Cessation and curtailment of membership
  • Ownership of the club’s property
  • Supply and sale of alcohol by the club
  • Entertainment provided by the club
  • Gaming and lotteries run by the club

External Relationships: The Club and Third Parties

  • The club’s civil liability to third parties
    • Contracts
    • Torts
  • Landlord and tenant relationships involving the club
  • The club’s employment of third parties
  • The club’s responsibility for crime
  • Third party challenges to the club’s decisions
  • The club’s liability for tax and non-domestic rates

The Club as a Party in Civil Proceedings

  • The club’s involvement in civil proceedings


  • Selected statutory provisions
  • Model articles of association 2008
  • Model rules for members’ clubs
  • Specimen notice of meeting and agenda
  • Specimen minutes of meeting
  • Tax table re sports clubs
"the authors provide an excellent treatment of the ways in which a club may participate in societal interactions, including a club's civil liability/ Mention should also be made of the useful appendices, containing statutes and precencents"
"I recommend this book to any solicitor dealing with clubs or unincorporated associations, including charities"
Solicitors Journal

Preface to Second Edition

The subject matter of this book remains no less challenging than before.

First, in the Bodleian Law Library in Oxford (and we assume elsewhere)
 books on club law are categorised as ‘the law of persons’ since they do not
 fit neatly into any other legal category, which gives some idea of the
 breadth of the subject matter of this book.

Secondly, Professor Warburton in
the second edition of her book on unincorporated associations in 1992 said
 that in the six years since her first edition the clarity of the law on this
 aspect had not improved. We echo that.Six years on from the first edition
of this book we find that we are still sparring with that species of club
 which is at the heart of this book, namely, the unincorporated members’
 club, described as ‘the most anomalous group of human beings that is
 known to the law’: an entity which is not a legal person at common law but
 which is often treated as more than the aggregate of its members for the
 time being and which, as a further twist, has been given by statute a fiscal
 personality for tax purposes and a criminal personality for certain statutory

Thirdly, there has been a plethora of relevant legislation affecting
 the contents of this book since the first edition, all of it no doubt
 well-intentioned but in several instances overly complex and/or ineptly
 drafted (a good example being the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups
 Act 2006, now put on hold by the coalition government).

Indeed, the authors recently came across a legal handbook where the two
 experienced barristerial editors in their preface had asked their readers to
 inform them of any errors of omission on the ground that ‘such is the
 mighty flood of legislation nowadays that a vital twig floating on the
 stream could well be missed’. Take the Equality Act 2010 (Commencement
 No 4, Savings, Consequential, Transitional, Transitory and Incidental
 Provisions and Revocation) Order 2010 as an exemplar. The title says it all.
 The man on the Clapham omnibus would simply be amazed by the amount
 of annotation and footnotes which is required fully to understand this
 statutory instrument. The Order was issued on 20 September 2010 and we
 do not jest when we say that two days later the government, owing to an
 error of omission, issued an Amending Order, and in that short space of
 time it had already issued 19 statutory instruments relating to other

Nevertheless, it is our earnest hope that the number of missed
 twigs in this second edition has been kept to the minimum. The ‘flood of
 legislation’ comment does demonstrate, however, the need for guidance to
 all those persons concerned with responsibilities in a club, society or
 association as regards the legal framework in which these bodies operate,
 especially bearing in mind the observation of that learned judge, Sir Robert
 Megarry, that there are commonly many obscurities and uncertainties in
 this realm.

We are again very grateful to our colleagues at 13 KBW for their
 contribution in the compilation of this edition: Arthur Blake in relation to
 chapter 13 on judicial review and third party challenges to club decisions;
 John Clargo, of the chambers property team, in relation to chapter 14 on
 landlord and tenant; and Nigel Woodhouse, of the chambers employment
 team, in relation to chapter 15 on employment. Our especial thanks go to
 Reginald Nock, a practising tax barrister, who very kindly agreed to
 overhaul chapter 16 on taxation. We also thank once again Peter
 Thompson QC, a former member of 13 KBW who is now the Consultant
 Editor of Butterworth’s County Court Practice, for reading and helpfully
 commenting on many revised chapters in draft.

The reader will observe that in order to make the text more readable we
 have called into existence, as in the first edition, the wholly fictitious town
 of Basset, being the county town of Bassetshire. We have peopled this town
 and county with characters named in the famous song of Widecombe Fair:
 Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare
 All along, down along, out along lee
 For I want to go to Widecombe Fair
 With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
 Peter Davey, Daniel Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
 Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
 We have endeavoured to state the law as at 31 December 2010.

David Ashton
   Paul W Reid
 13 King’s Bench Walk
 February 2011

* Practising primarily out of Park Court Chambers, Leeds LS1 2SJ.

Foreword to First Edition

An up-to-date and comprehensive book on Club Law is long overdue. We have waited a long time, but the wait has been worthwhile.

The concept of the club is founded in the 17th century when like-minded persons came together in coffee houses for political and social ends. In the next century ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ emerged, notably White’s (probably the earliest) and The Garrick (of which I am a proud member). Sports clubs were not far behind, the Jockey Club, MCC and the Royal and Ancient immediately spring to mind. They became a peculiarly English institution with a distinctive ethos of ‘clubability’. The members jealously and zealously regarded the association as ‘their’ club run by and for the members with an unincorporated structure and in an informal yet democratic manner. The concept worked so well that it attracted the attention of others who recognised the merits and advantages of a club and who were inspired to adopt the formula as a means of creating institutions with far wider purposes and pursuits. Hence the emergence of a whole spectrum of clubs, associations and societies which include, for example, working men’s clubs, British Legion clubs, gaming clubs, societies devoted to hobbies and even fan clubs. In all, a total running into tens of thousands. A later development was the creation of a more complex creature, incorporated clubs registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act or the Companies Act.

It is immediately apparent that the authors have undertaken a monumental task to produce in one volume the law and practice relating to the whole spectrum. A glance at the list of statutes and statutory instruments alone reveals the complexity of the subject and the dedication required to tackle the subject. But we need not worry. How fortunate that the publishers chose to entrust the task into such safe hands. David Ashton in 1964 re-wrote the book on Club Law published by the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union and in the course of many years in practice he has acted for or advised numerous clubs, ranging from top football clubs to the local angling club. For 17 years he was counsel to the Kennel Club. Paul Reid has developed a particular expertise in Club Law, having been for the last 15 years Standing Counsel to the National Golf Clubs’ Advisory Association, in the course of which he has written over a thousand opinions for golf clubs on all aspects of law and practice.

The end result is one of the most impressive works of its type that I have ever encountered. It describes and explains the law and practice in an exemplary manner. The hallmark of this book is its lucidity, practicality and readability. Every club secretary of every club of every description must acquire a copy, keep it to hand and be ready to refer committees, officers and members to its contents. It would be remiss of lawyers in this field to be without it.
 The Rt Hon Sir Philip Otton
20 Essex Street
   London WC2R 3AL
   February 2005

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