The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has announced that draft legislation is planned, aimed at reforming the regulatory regime for co-operative societies in Ireland. The initiative will reduce the burdens which currently exist in the start-up and operation of co-operative societies. This comes after the publication in May of part of the long-awaited draft new Companies Bill for Ireland.

The new bill, which is likely to be the lengthiest piece of legislation ever enacted in the State, aims to repeal and replace the fundamentals of existing Irish Company Law.

The proposed new legislation for co-operative societies will make the following main changes to the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893 to 1978, which is the legislation applying to most co-operatives in Ireland:

  • Ease financial reporting restrictions by extending the period for the preparation and submission of the annual return and accounts;
  • Abolish the statutory limit on individual shareholdings in societies and the related triennial (three yearly) return of shareholders;
  • Make available to societies the examinership process of the Companies Acts;
  • Make it easier for cancelled societies to be restored to the register;
  • Ease fund-raising restrictions for non-agricultural societies; and
  • Include provision for the cessation of registration of any new friendly societies.