The Law Commission has called for submissions on an issues paper setting out why it thinks the century-old Incorporated Societies Act 1908 should be updated and revised.

The Incorporated Societies Act allows not-for-profit organisations to incorporate as bodies corporate separate from their own members. This has been the preferred model for many of New Zealand's cultural, sporting and recreational organisations as well as organisations covering a full range of community activities and business and professional associations.

The issues paper starts from the premise that New Zealand ought to retain a separate statutory regime that allows such groups to incorporate. However, the Commission is seeking feedback on a range of issues and options for reform of the existing incorporated society model including:

  • whether all societies should, as a condition of incorporation, be subject to certain minimum governance rules that they cannot vary;
  • whether a new Act ought to provide a code that makes the obligations of committee members clearer;
  • how the Act should provide for the resolution of disputes between members and their societies; and
  • what rules societies ought to be required to have in their constitution, and the nature of those rules.

The Commission also suggests that any reform of the Incorporated Societies Act should include the ability of charitable trusts to incorporate under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957.

The Law Commission's issues paper "Reforming the Incorporated Societies Act 1908" is available here.

Submissions on the issues paper close on 30 September 2011.