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Advice Note 4: Setting up an Association

These notes summarise how to set up an unincorporated association. For details on other types of legal structures available to voluntary and community groups please see Advice Note 3: Legal structures for voluntary and community groups.

An unincorporated association is the simplest type of organisation and the favourite legal structure chosen by new groups. The attractions are that it is cheap to set up and run, and there is no red tape to deal with. It is suitable for setting up a group with aims that are “otherwise than for-profit” (it is not suitable for a ‘for-profit’ organisation).

The down side of the association is that it has no separate legal personality distinct from the members and it cannot enter into contracts or hold property in its own name. In addition, the committee members may incur personal liability.

Unincorporated associations are ‘membership bodies’. An unincorporated association cannot be set up by an individual.

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