Under the 2014 Act, a Registered Society means a Society which was either registered prior to 1 August 2014 under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (a “1965 Society”), or is registered under the 2014 Act on or after 1 August 2014 (a “2014 Society”).
The term ‘Industrial and Provident Society’ should no longer be used.
Under current FCA guidance a 2014 Society ‘could’ refer to itself as either a Co-operative Society or a Community Benefit Society (as applicable). It is not yet clear whether these terms are alternatives to, or replacements for, the term Registered Society. However, current guidance makes it clear that these two terms should not be used for 1965 Societies which should only be referred to as Registered Societies.
The FCA guidance states that for letterheads and websites the following statement ‘could’ be used: “[registered name] is a [registered society/ co-operative society/ community benefit society (as applicable to your Society)] under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.”
Registered Name Requirements
Regardless of the terminology and the recommendations in the guidance, there is no explicit requirement under the 2014 Act for a Registered Society to state that it is a Registered Society in documentation or elsewhere. There are however obligations as to the use of the registered name (which reflect the requirements of the 1965 Act):
- All registered names must end with ‘limited’ or ‘ltd’ unless the Registered Society’s objects are wholly charitable or benevolent.
- The full registered name must be legible and conspicuous on the outside of your registered office and every office or place in which your business is carried on.
- The full registered name must be stated (and legible) on the following documentation:
- notices, advertisements and other official publications;
- business correspondence;
- bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods, purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the Registered Society;
- other business documentation; and
- websites (including sections on any other person’s website if the Registered Society placed the section on the other website or authorised it to be placed there).
- Where a charitable Registered Society’s name does not include the word ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’, it must state on all the documentation listed above that it is a charity.
- In addition, a charitable Registered Society must legibly state its full registered name on all conveyances purporting to be executed by or on behalf of the Society. Whilst this is not a statutory requirement for other Registered Societies it is nevertheless recommended best practice.
It is important to keep these requirements in mind, particularly where you use different trading names for different aspects of your business. This is because an officer of a Registered Society (or any other person acting on behalf of a Registered Society) who issues or authorises a document to be signed, or authorises information to be used on a website without the registered name commits an offence and may be liable to a fine. Whilst unlikely, such a person could also be held personally liable for any amounts payable by the Registered Society under the relevant documentation if the amounts due are not paid.
This is a good opportunity to review your physical and electronic documentation to ensure that they comply with the 2014 Act’s requirements and that any references to ‘industrial and provident society’ (unless as part of your registered name) are removed.