Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Law Reform Commission of Ireland Consultation Paper on Liability of Clubs and Unincorporated Associations

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has started a consultation process to look into the law on civil and criminal liability as it applies to clubs, societies and other unincorporated associations.

As part of the exercice, it has issued a Consultation Paper:

"Many voluntary nonprofit associations, clubs, societies and other groups that gather in pursuit of shared religious, sporting or other recreational interests are unincorporated associations. Such associations do not have a legal existence separate and distinct from their members: the association is simply the group of members (...)"

"However, this has a number of important legal consequences. It means that: 

(a) members can be exposed to personal liability for the wrongdoing of other members, in which they played no active part.

(b) members of unincorporated clubs, societies and associations who are injured cannot sue their own association, as doing so is treated by the law as suing oneself.

(c) suing unincorporated associations can be very difficult, as unincorporated associations cannot sue or be sued in their own name; rather individual members at the time of the relevant wrongdoing have to be identified.

(d) because unincorporated associations have no legal identity of their own, they require trusts to be established, through which property is held for the benefit of the association. This may mean that assets held by an unincorporated association are beyond the reach of litigants and regulators."

"In this Consultation Paper, the Law Reform Commission highlights an existing means of achieving legal protection from individual liability: the company limited by guarantee (CLG). It also proposes a number of possible reforms to try to make the law on the liability of unincorporated associations clearer, fairer and more enforceable."

The paper also has a section outlining the law in other jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, parts of the UK, France and other countries.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:24 pm


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