As a Community Benefit Society, our constitution has been drawn up with help from The Plunkett Foundation, a body which has been advising and helping rural community groups for the last hundred years. We are also governed by rules laid down by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is the regulatory body for groups like ours. If you are interested in reading the rules in full, you can download a copy of them here.
Our legal structure is very similar to the traditional Friendly and Provident society. It has three main features:
In the unlikely event that the business fails or that a claim for damages is brought against the Society, shareholders cannot lose more than the amount they originally invested.
Under FCA rules, the assets of the Society cannot be used or sold for private gain. If the business fails, the first option is to transfer ownership of the building to another community group. If this is not possible, the building will be sold and creditors and investors repaid. Any money left over will be made available for other community uses.
Democratic ownership and control
We are a democratic body. By buying a share you automatically become a member of the Society. This entitles you to vote at the Annual Members Meeting (AMM), to receive a copy of the Annual Report and to stand for election to the Management Committee.
Overall control of the Society is via the AMM, and is strictly on the basis of one member one vote – all members have an equal say, regardless of how many shares they own. Members also have the right to hold the Management Committee to account by calling for a special general meeting if necessary.