This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.


| 1 minute read

Time to update co-op law

It was very welcome to hear the announcement from Andrew Griffith on Friday that the legislation which governs co-operatives will be subject to review by the Law Commission. The same legal framework governs many housing associations, community pubs and rural shops, the vast majority of which are registered as community benefit societies.

The law is long overdue for updating; apart from the sterling efforts of those involved in various private members bills (including of course the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill which passed its third reading in the House of Lords last week) there have been no substantive changes to the governing legislation for co-ops for many years.

Attention must now turn to the terms of reference for that review. It is vital that the Law Commission is asked to consider the broader question of what kind of legal framework co-ops need to flourish; it would be a missed opportunity to just consider the detail of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (the current main act), partly because there is so much that the Act does not contain. The 2014 Act has just 155 sections; the Companies Act 2006, which governs the work of limited companies, has 1300. This matters because a strong legal framework gives security and certainty to those involved.

But co-ops are not companies; they exist not to benefit investors and shareholders, but their members - with an insistence on open membership - and wider communities. They have a distinct and important role to play, in doing business for the common good, and involving many people in direct ownership of enterprises that affect them directly. The law needs to recognise, strengthen and enable that contribution; the Law Commission should be asked to help make it happen.

Minister announces major government review of co-op legislation Finance minister Andrew Griffith told Co-op Congress it would be 'the most comprehensive modernisation of the co-operative sector for a generation'


asset transfer, community ownership, co-operatives and mutuals, governance, regeneration, social business, social enterprise