The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 is uncomfortably old and has been little amended since its enactment. Yet the range of community organisations that use this legal form is extensive in New Zealand. The focus of this review was on modernising the statute and providing greater guidance for people who run incorporated societies. The Report recommends that the 1908 Act be replaced by a new statute. It makes numerous recommendations for how that statute should provide better guidance for societies, including:
- Statutory duties for office holders;
- Requirements for dealing with conflicts of interest;
- A requirement to include dispute resolution procedures in every constitution;
- A model constitution.
The Commission’s Report, A New Act for Incorporated Societies (NZLC R129, 2013), was published on 21 August 2013. The Report and a summary of the key recommendations is available in PDF form here.
References to the review in the media
Scoop 'Minister welcomes Law Commission report' 21 August 2013
Scoop 'Greens back bringing incorporated societies law up-to-date' 21 August 2013
Hayes Knight 'Changes are on the horizon for Incorporated Societies' 17 February 2012
- Published 21 Aug 2013
The Commission’s Report, A New Act for Incorporated Societies (NZLC R129), was tabled in Parliament on 21 August 2013. The Report is available below in PDF and eBook form, or you can view the online version here.
The Report recommends the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 be repealed and replaced by a modern statute. The new statute should provide guidance common to other statutes, including:
- statutory duties for the officers of societies;
- requirements for dealing with conflicts of interest;
- a requirement to include dispute resolution procedures in every constitution;
- a model constitution.
Alongside these broader recommendations, the Commission makes numerous more specific recommendations, including:
- The statute should make it clear that members should have no ownership interest in the society;
- The minimum number of members of a society should be reduced from 15 to 10 members;
- Societies should be required to have a statutory officer and a committee of at least three members;
- Societies should be required to prepare and file at least simple annual financial reports.
The Government will consider the recommendations and respond to them in due course.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 22 Jun 2011
The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 is uncomfortably old and has been little amended since its enactment. Yet the range of community organisations that use this legal form is extensive in New Zealand. Practising lawyers are often called upon for advice concerning incorporated societies. They are asked for advice on whether to set one up, how to set one up, how to register it and what to include in the documents. Difficult questions frequently arise around the governance and administration of such organisations and the resolution of their internal disputes. Many of the reported cases revolve around such disputes. This review took a first principles look at the Act.
An Issues Paper, Reforming the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, was published in June 2011 with submissions due at the end of September 2011. Over 200 submissions were received. The final Report was released on 21 August 2013.
NB: This is an online paper only. There are no hard copies available.
- Published 21 Aug 2013
The Law Commission is recommending that Parliament enact a modern statute for incorporated societies to replace the current statute, which is more than 100 years old.
The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 has played a critical role in community life by enabling organisations to incorporate. This means members of a community group can apply to establish the group as a separate legal entity, a society. Once registered, the society is a legal person in its own right, with rights and obligations that are separate from its members.
There are over 23,000 incorporated societies, covering a huge range of purposes. Societies play a vital role in the social fabric and economic success of New Zealand. Because of that, it is important that societies are supported by clear, modern legislation that assists them and their members to attain their goals.
The full media release is available below. The summary, recommendations and full Report are available here.