When to put a constitution in place
It is usual to draw your constitution at the time when you set up your club or association. However, you can improve it any time.
These documents are suitable for a wide range of organisations. The members may share a common interest, activity or goal. You can also use one of them to form a community or voluntary group that you might wish to register as a charity in the future.
Our aim has been to set out a clear and logical structure by which to manage your organisation, association, club or group. We have provided variations for a few specific types of organisation. Just choose the type which you think might come closest to your organisation.
What these documents can do for you
A framework of rules
When people get together without forming a company, there is no set of rules which is automatically applied. To run the organisation efficiently you therefore have to put a document together. Because there is no standard for this, you can say what you like. Agreeing terms with colleagues is often difficult. We provide that framework - flexibly so that you can select what you want.
Operating like a business
Many organisations have a specific purpose in the nature of a business. Examples are a theatre group or a sports club with employees. Those organisations cannot function without a constitution. In these documents we have borrowed familiar concepts and words from company law so that meetings are run smoothly and each person knows what he has agreed to do.
Presentation of your organisation to third parties
Organising events of any sort usually involves conducting business with sponsors and distributors, managing finances, and collaborating with external teams. A well-defined constitution shows a level of professionalism, which will be noticed by those other people and businesses.
Better personal legal protection
A company is of course a legal “person”, but a club or organisations is not. So any contract relating to club activity must be made by individual members on behalf of the others. If anything goes wrong, those are the people who will be expected to pick up the pieces. A well-drawn constitution sets clear guidelines and boundaries for who can do what, so that you all know who is responsible and the extent of the liability of any one of you.
The law relating to club constitutions
A club or society has no legal identity of its own beyond the identity of the individual members. That means that the members are personally responsible for any liabilities (debts or obligations) that arise. The scope for disagreement is substantial, leaving one or more members liable for debts or negligence they thought would be covered by a larger group or by some other arrangement.
The management of personal liability of members is therefore one of the strongest reasons to have a formal constitution. If you, as a member, are liable for decisions made by another member, you’ll want to make sure that decisions are made with your full knowledge of any risk and with your agreement.
Features and contents of these templates
Property ownership and alcohol licence
If the organisation wishes to own land, some person or group of people (no more than four) must take legal ownership on behalf of all members or of the committee, as you decide. That ownership requires “rules” about maintenance, money and even disposal.
In a similar way, if you want to sell alcohol, you need a licence and someone must formally apply for a licence in his name. This is not a problem in relation to an agreement in this set. We merely note that it is covered.
To cover all of the problems you might encounter requires a long document.
We have carefully drawn each of these documents so that each contains what you need (with many options) but contains as little as possible of what you do not need.
Examples of points a template covers include:
- Name and objects of the club
- Membership: qualifications and membership types
- Entrance fees and subscriptions
- Payments and arrears
- Resignation, expulsion and bankruptcy of members
- General Management Committee
- Proposal of candidates for committees
- Secretary and other employees
- Borrowing and other powers
- Meetings: when and where, special procedures and so on
- Voting at meetings
- Financial year
- Audit of accounts (optional)
- Opening of club premises
- Purchase and supply of alcohol
- Data protection
- How and when the rules can and will be amended