Legal Status

The process of ‘incorporation’ confers a separate legal status on a group, which means the liability of the individuals is limited and the group can commit legal undertakings, such as entering into contracts.

Irish law gives adults ‘legal status’; it recognises individuals in the legal system and offers them a certain amount of legal protection. However, it does not recognise a group of people as having legal status if they do not have a formal legal structure. This means that each of the individuals who make up the group have full legal liability if something goes wrong.

The process of ‘incorporation’ confers a separate legal status on a group, which means the liability of the individuals is limited and the group can commit legal undertakings, such as entering into contracts. Normally groups will start up in a small and informal way and if they grow, they tend to seek a legal structure (or ‘personality’ as it is increasingly referred to) for the group. Incorporation though may not be the most appropriate step so you would be advised to evaluate your options before making a decision. 

The following table outlines the different structures that are available to a group:

 UnincorporatedIncorporated
Organisational structure
Unincorporated assocation
Trust
Benevolent society
Company limited by guarantee
Industrial and provident society
Legal personality
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Governing document
Constitution
Deed of trust
Rules
Constitution
Rules
Relevant statutory body
Charities Regulatory Authority
Revenue Commissioners-if seeking tax exemptions
Charities Regulatory Authority
Registrar of Friendly Societies
Charities Regulatory Authority
Companies Registration Office
Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement
Revenue Commissioners -if seeking tax exemptions

 

Registrar of Friendly Societies