Co-operative and community benefit societies
Co-operative and community benefit societies

The following Corporate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Co-operative and community benefit societies
  • What is a co-operative or community benefit society?
  • Legal framework
  • Why use a registered society?
  • Structure of a registered society
  • How to register a co-operative society or community benefit society
  • Ongoing obligations
  • Conversion to a company
  • Insolvency of a registered society
  • Industrial and provident societies

What is a co-operative or community benefit society?

A co-operative society or community benefit society (previously known as industrial and provident societies) (a registered society, or alternatively, a society) is a body corporate with limited liability that can be used by organisations to conduct a business either as a co-operative or for the benefit of a community. There are two categories of registered society:

  1. co-operative societies, which operate for the mutual benefit of their members, who are united by a common economic, social or cultural need or interest, and

  2. community benefit societies, the business of which is conducted to provide services for the benefit of a community at large (not just the members of that society)

Legal framework

The Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (CCBSA 2014) governs the registration and operation of registered societies. It came into force on 1 August 2014.

The CCBSA 2014 replaced the industrial and provident society (IPS) with two new legal forms:

  1. the co-operative society, and

  2. the community benefit society

The CCBSA 2014 consolidated and repealed a large amount of earlier legislation relating to IPSs and friendly societies including:

  1. Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965

  2. Friendly and Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1968, and

  3. Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act 2003

Overall, the CCBSA 2014 made very few changes to the law and mainly