Clubs, Societies and other unincorporated associations

Date: 01/03/2023

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member – Groucho Marx

Maybe we’ll begin to have more sympathy for Groucho when we read the Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on The Liability of Clubs, Societies, and other Unincorporated Associations.

In Ireland, some clubs, societies and other groups are not legal entities. It is the members of the club who personally enter into contracts with employees or suppliers, or who can be sued.

We might be shocked to discover that as members of a club we could be criminally liable if there was an oil leak from a tank owned by the club that caused environmental damage and that’s only one of the many legal problems highlighted.

With over 17,000 unincorporated bodies functioning in Ireland, providing valuable community services in areas including sport, social services, emergency relief and cultural activities it is easy to see how this can cause huge problems for people not to mention the potential injustice of it all.

For the paid employees of these bodies, it can be even more difficult if there’s a dispute, possibly an unfair dismissal. It is important for an employee to know who their employer is. To take a case against an employer, an individual needs to know the inner workings or organisational structure of an unincorporated association. This information can be difficult to find.

The Law Reform Commission is eager to receive your responses particularly from those who are involved in activities carried out by unincorporated clubs and associations.

Their summary document is available on their website, Law Reform Consultation Page. This excellent document is designed to generate participation by everyone in the consultation process and to encourage debate on the issues raised in the Consultation Paper. It is well worth a read.

The Commission invites members of the public and interested bodies to share their views on the issues and questions raised by submitting their responses to a series of questions set out in the document.

Responses can be made to the Commission by email to or by post directly to Law Reform Commission, Styne House, Upper Hatch Street, Dublin 2, D02 DY27.

Deadline for submissions: Wednesday 15th March 2023

Frank Murphy, Solicitor.

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