Unincorporated associations

On 26 November 2009 the Scottish Law Commission published its report on Unincorporated Associations (Scot Law Com no 217).

Under the current law clubs have no separate legal personality, meaning that all members of a club become potentially liable in a number of circumstances.

Former Law Commissioner, Colin Tyre, QC, who was the lead Commissioner on the project, said:

“The law relating to unincorporated associations and clubs is widely regarded as being in an unsatisfactory state. Many people who join clubs or devote time to the management of voluntary associations are unaware of the personal liabilities which they may incur simply by becoming a member or a committee member. For too long the law has brushed under the carpet the difficulties caused by its failure to recognise these associations as separate legal persons. We think the time has come to treat them as legal entities with their own rights, assets and liabilities.”

The Commission therefore proposes that non-profit making unincorporated associations with 2 or more members, and certain provisions in the constitution (namely: the association's name; its purpose; membership criteria; the procedure for the election or appointment of those managing it; the powers and duties of its office-bearers; the rules for distributing its assets if dissolved; and the procedure for amending its constitution) will be accorded separate legal personality.