The Government has launched a public consultation on new legislation aimed at modernising the law governing the operation of co-operative societies (co-ops).
The proposals will provide a specific legislative basis for co-ops for the first time, and will introduce new requirements on corporate governance, accounting, compliance, and reporting.
Announcing the consultation process, Robert Troy (Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, pictured) described the measures as “the most far-reaching reform of the legislation in almost 130 years”.
He said the new measures would diversify the options available to corporate bodies on how to structure, operate and invest.
The provisions on corporate governance, accounting, compliance, and reporting will be similar to the provisions of the Companies Act 2014, but will be amended to recognise “the distinctive characteristics” of co-ops, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
It is also planned to make it easier to set up and operate a co-op – by reducing the minimum number of founding members from seven to three, and providing for audit exemptions, where appropriate.
Co-ops currently operate under the Industrial and Provident Societies (IPS) Acts 1893-2021, but the department says that this legislation is no longer fit for purpose in a number of areas.
The department has been working on new legislation for a number of years, and now wants to give interested parties another change to give their views, before finalising its proposals.
The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday, 25 February.