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  • Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law
  • Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law
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Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law

FROM £37.50

The book provides an analysis of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society law and incorporates all recent changes to the law.

Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society LawListen to the podcast by Ian Snaith

The Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law is an essential tool for practitioners advising and working with (and within) co-operatives and community benefit societies.

 This fully updated edition of the definitive work in this area of law deals with the recently enacted Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, changes to share capital limits, major reforms of insolvency law for societies, and the new powers and approach to the Financial Conduct Authority as their regulator. A special chapter outlines the application of the law to credit unions. The book illustrates the operation of the law by referring to the provisions of a wide range of society model rules.

 Under the editorship of Ian Snaith, the new edition has been updated by a team of contributors with many years of practical experience with societies across a wide range of sectors including housing, retail, health and finance. The project has been organised and supported by Co-operatives UK, the national body that campaigns for co-operation and works to promote, develop and unite co-operative enterprises. As well as providing a complete guide for practitioners, academics and students, this continues to be a handbook for a “self-help” movement, written in accessible language and laid out in a convenient format for all.

The Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law is the successor to the Handbook of Industrial and Provident Society Law, first published in 1993 under ISBN 978 08519 5203 1.
1. Co-operative and community benefit societies in their legal context
 2. Legislative history and modern societies
 3. Registration
 4. The rules of the society
 5. Membership
 6. Meetings
 7. Directors and officials
 8. Capital and surplus distribution
 9. Accounts, Audit and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Powers
 10. Disputes and proceedings
 11. A society’s contracts and investments
 12. The transformation and dissolution of societies: solvent and insolvent
 13. Credit Unions
Appendix
Useful contacts
Index 

Click here to read the full contents list. 
“...excellent handbook of Industrial and Provident Society Law.”
Blackburne J in Stansell Ltd v Co-operative Group (CWS) Ltd [2005]
Important legal changes affecting co-operative and community benefit societies (formerly industrial and provident societies) came into force in 2014. The Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 consolidated most of the law for England, Scotland and Wales. A number of statutory instruments made important changes to the powers of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as registrar of societies, applied insolvency rescue procedures and director disqualification to societies, increased permitted holdings of share capital, and eased electronic communication with the FCA. That followed the 2012 replacement of the FSA by the PRA and FCA which particularly affected creit unions. Those developments meant that it was time to provide an
up-to-date legal text in the area. Co-operatives UK decided to do that and this is the result.

This book offers a full treatment of the law on co-operative and community benefit societies based on the 2014 consolidation and the reforms. It is intended to be authoritative and provides detailed and up-to-date legal references that the reader can follow up. It is aimed at lawyers, accountants and co-operative development workers as well as directors, secretaries, and active members of housing associations, co-operatives and community benefit societies. The book offers a resource for societies of every size across all sectors. It may also be of interest to historians, policy-makers, researchers, and commentators.

Professionals such as accountants, business advisers and lawyers need to increase their awareness of these societies as an alternative to the registered company. Undergraduate and postgraduate students and academics need a reference book in this area and perhaps the availability of this text will encourage law and business courses at all levels to widen their coverage beyond companies.

The updating project has been a truly co-operative effort. The Co-operatives UK legal team, particularly Helen Barber and Linda Barlow, have made this happen by virtue of their hard work and insight. They had the full support of Ed Mayo, the Secretary General and the Co-operatives UK board. A business plan was devised by Nick Money. Cliff Mills was heavily involved in promoting and encouraging the project from the beginning and Mike Gaskell rallied the Trowers’ troops to assist.

It has been a privilege to work on this project with a team of legal practitioners highly experienced in the field. We worked on updating my original text for chapters or sections of chapters as follows:

  • David Alcock of Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP – Section 9.1., and Chapter 11;
  • Diego Ballon-Ossio of General Counsels Division, Financial Conduct Authority – Sections 3.1. to 3.7., 9.3. and 9.4.;
  • Sam Coward of Trowers and Hamlins LLP – Chapter 10;
  • Ian Davis of Trowers and Hamlins LLP – Chapter 8;
  • Mike Gaskell of Trowers and Hamlins LLP – Sections 3.8. to 3.12.;
  • Cliff Mills of Capsticks Solicitors LLP – Chapters 2 and 5;
  • Jo Savage of Croftons Solicitors LLP – Chapter 6;
  • Abbie Shelton of ABCUL, Association of British Credit Unions Limited – Chapter 13;
  • Catherine Simpson of Trowers and Hamlins LLP – Chapter 7;
  • Ian Snaith of the University of Leicester and DWF LLP – Chapter 1, Section 9.2., and Sections 12.6. to 12.8.; and
  • Sharron Webster of Trowers and Hamlins LLP – Chapter 4 and Sections 12.1. to 12.5.
As editor, I co-ordinated all the work and finalised the whole text, including rewriting or reordering some chapters in the light of more recent developments and experience.

This edition updates the text of the 1993 version of the Handbook of Industrial and Provident Society Law which was published as a looseleaf volume by Holyoake Books, an imprint of the Co-operative Union (now part of Co-operatives UK). That volume drew on the work of previous Co-operative Union authors who produced earlier versions between 1894 and 1980. Particular tribute is due to Bill Chappenden, who produced the version on the 1965 Act, and to Paul Rose and Ian Swinney who updated that volume. The 1993 edition also drew on my own Law of Co-operatives which was published in 1984 by Waterlow Publishers. My work on the 1993 volume resulted from the encouragement of Arthur Pemberton and John Butler of the Institute of
Co-operative Directors and its production and marketing were enthusiastically supported by Iain Williamson and Gillian Lonergan, both then of the Co-operative Union. In that sense, the book is the fruit of the co-operation of many over a period of 120 years.

The format has changed to reflect developments in the last 20 years. The former looseleaf format allowed updates from time to time but those loose page updates had to be filed in and the format was expensive to produce. For that reason, this book is in hardback format with a version in ebook form for those who prefer that. It seems that the law may be settled at least for a while now so a new edition may not be needed for a few years.

Because online access to legislation is now freely available at www.legislation.gov.uk, the 1993 appendices containing statutes and statutory instruments have been dropped. Similarly, the Co-operatives UK Corporate Governance Codes are available online at http://www.uk.coop, along with many other helpful legal and business materials. The provisions of some society model rules have been used to illustrate the choices open to societies in some chapters of this edition but, to avoid a having to sell the book at an even higher price, the full text of the Model Rules has not been included.
The process of preparing the text for production and publication has been ably and efficiently carried out by Kate Hather of Jordan Publishing and Julian Roskams of Etica Press Ltd.

I take full responsibility for the final product and particularly for any errors or inaccuracies in it. As far as possible, the law is stated as it stood on 1 August
2014.

Ian Snaith,
Leicestershire,
August 2014.
At the beginning of 2012, the year dedicated by the United Nations to be the International Year of Co-operatives, the Coalition Government committed itself to update and consolidate the legislation for co-operatives registered as industrial and provident societies in the United Kingdom. This was a welcome moment for the sector.

Two years on, that commitment has been realised with the coming into law of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.

Co-operatives UK has been at the heart of the campaign for reforms and consolidation of the law relating to co-operatives for the last two or three decades. To complement the new Act, Co-operatives UK has published this updated handbook of co-operative and community benefit society law, an essential guide for societies and their advisors.

Ian Snaith, the Handbook’s editor, is the UK’s foremost specialist in co-operative legislation, and part of a wider European and global resource on the application into law of co-operative principles and values.

Together, the authors have a wealth of experience in providing advice to societies, turning the Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law into an essential and authoritative publication.

Dame Pauline Green
International Co-operative Alliance

Editor

  Ian Snaith University of Leicester & DWF LLP

Contributors:

 David Alcock Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP
 Diego Ballon-Ossio General Counsels Division, Financial Conduct Authority
 Sam Coward Trowers and Hamlins LLP
 Ian Davis Trowers and Hamlins LLP
 Mike Gaskell Trowers and Hamlins LLP
 Cliff Mills Capsticks Solicitors LLP
 Jo Savage Croftons Solicitors LLP
 Abbie Shelton ABCUL, Association of British Credit Unions Limited
 Catherine Simpson Trowers and Hamlins LLP
 Sharron Webster Trowers and Hamlins LLP
1.1. INTRODUCTION
After an introductory outline of some of the legal requirements of co-operative and community benefit orientated businesses in Section 1.1., Section 1.2. of this chapter sketches the legal context of co-operative and community benefit societies by comparing them with other legal structures available for business. Section 1.3. deals with the protection of organisational purpose in legal structures and Section 1.4. deals with the key legislative changes made to co-operative and community benefit society law in 2014.

1.1.1. The range of choice
The legal definition of a co-operative or community benefit society has at its core the requirement that it is ‘a society for carrying on any industry business or trade (including dealings of any description with land), whether wholesale or retail’ and that it registers as either a ‘bona fide co-operative society’ or a society conducting or intending to conduct its business ‘for the benefit of the community’.1

Both types of society are business structures with particular practices or objectives. So where do co-operatives and community benefit societies fit in the wider picture of legal structures available for business in the UK?

Unlike many other legal systems, the UK jurisdictions do not generally require businesses of a particular type to use particular legal structures. Instead, they allow a wide choice of legal form to anyone starting a business. Business owners and founders also have a wide choice about the detailed rules in the organisation’s constitution.

As a result, co-operative and community benefit societies might be said to be ‘in competition’ with other legal structures, such as companies and partnerships, from the point of view of people choosing between them. The special purposes or practices
involved in being either a bona fide co-operative or a community benefit society also
raise issues about the availability of other legal mechanisms or structures, such as trusts, charities, building societies or friendly societies, intended to achieve a similar outcome. That raises questions about locking assets into the purpose and how easy or difficult it is to demutualise the structure and turn the co-operative or community benefit society into an investor-owned company.

This chapter briefly compares available structures with that perspective in mind. Chapter 2 examines the history of co-operative and community benefit society legislation and the range of societies in existence today and Chapter 3, dealing with the registration of societies, looks at the key features of organisations that qualify as co-operatives or community benefit societies.

For an excellent practical analysis of the range of legal structures available for co-operative and other ‘third sector’ organisations, consult Co-operatives UK’s Simply Legal.2 It is particularly helpful in analysing the types of organisations against the available legal forms, the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation, ownership issues, and charitable status.

Click here to read the whole of chapter one.

Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law, Update and Supplement to the Second Edition

Co-operatives UK is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of an Update and Supplement to the second edition of the Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law.  The Handbook is an essential tool for practitioners advising and working with (and within) co-operatives and community benefit societies.

This supplement provides an update on developments since the enactment of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and provides a commentary on FG15/12: Guidance on the FCA’s registration function under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, published in November 2015.

The supplement can be purchased either as a standalone work, or used in conjunction with the hardback text.

EPDF will be available on publication. 

The Supplement is available to pre-order ahead of its end of its March (2016)  publication date when an e-PDF will also be available.

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