In July 2014, the Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, which was designed to reduce the regulatory burden on Co-operative Societies in Ireland and make it easier to start up and run a Co-operative as an alternative form of enterprise organisation, was commenced.
The key features of the 2014 Act are:
- Allowing individual societies to set their own limit on individual shareholdings in the society;
- Easing financial reporting restrictions by extending the period for the preparation and submission of the annual return and accounts;
- Making it easier for cancelled societies to be restored to the register;
- Easing fund-raising restrictions for non-agricultural societies;
- Making the Examinership process, currently available only to companies, an option for Co-operative Societies which might find themselves in difficulties (these provisions will be commenced once the Rules of Court are amended); and
- Introducing changes to the legislation governing Friendly Societies. There are currently just 47 friendly societies (mostly charitable or benevolent societies) registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and many of these have relatively low levels of activity.