Consultation on the Liability of Clubs, Societies and other Unincorporated Associations

Deadline for submission extended to 15th May 2023

The Law Reform Commission has today published a Consultation Paper on the Liability of Clubs, Societies and other Unincorporated Associations.
This Consultation Paper forms part of the Law Reform Commission’s Fifth Programme of Law Reform. It examines issues relating to civil and criminal liability, including matters of regulatory compliance and enforcement, connected with non-profit, unincorporated associations such as clubs and

The Consultation Paper raises important questions as to how regulators and individuals can enforce legal obligations and, if necessary, sue unincorporated associations. It also explores the potential legal consequences, including personal liability, for individuals involved in non-profit unincorporated associations
The term “unincorporated association” is used to describe a category of voluntary non-profit associations, clubs, societies and other groups of persons who associate together in pursuit of one, or more, stated non-commercial lawful purposes, and that Irish law does not currently regard as having a legal personality that is separate and distinct from its members. As of June 2021, there were 19,410 unincorporated associations in Ireland, including 2,684 charities.

Central to the issues concerning unincorporated associations is that, because they are not recognised as legal entities, separate and distinct from their members, they cannot sue or be sued. They lack the capacity to enter into contractual relationships, including employment contracts. Furthermore, individual members cannot sue an unincorporated association on the basis that one cannot sue oneself. In addition, they cannot hold property in their own name and such assets are generally held by trustees for the benefit of unincorporated associations and/or their members.

While there are advantages for many clubs and societies in choosing to operate as unincorporated associations, there are also significant risks. The members are exposed to personal liability for the wrongdoing of others, even in cases where they played no active part.  Continue reading


Submissions are invited from all interested parties on the Commission’s Consultation Paper on Liability of Clubs, Societies and other Unincorporated Associations. The relevant media release can be found here (as Gaelige). The full text of the Consultation Paper can be found here. An executive summary of this Consultation Paper can be found here. A plain English summary of this Consultation Paper can be found here.

Tá achoimhre ar an bPáipéar Comhairliúcháin as Gaeilge ar fail anseo: Cliceáil anseo

Details of the various options to submit your response – whether verbally, by email (direct to: ) or by post – can be found here. Those who require a hardcopy of the Consultation Paper should contact the Commission offices at

Contributors are requested to make their submissions/comments, if possible, before close of business on 15 March 2023.

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