Simply Legal – Legal forms and organisational types for co-operatives and community owned enterprises

Type: Practical guides  |  Topic: Governance  |  Format: Information sheet
Updated: 25/09/2017

Simply Legal is a guide with all you need to know about legal forms and organisational types for co‑operatives and community owned enterprises.


“Simply Legal - the definitive guide to legal structures for anything worthwhile. Revised and updated.” Co-op Culture

“A must-have, incredibly useful for groups trying to work out how to set up.” Radical Routes‏

“A really useful publication.” Co-operative Futures‏

“[A] key UK co-operative movement document. It will stand the test of time and critical use by co-op developers and legal advisers around the country.” Calverts London


  1. Introduction
  2. Why legal structures are important

    Legal structures are a necessary part of the framework of all organisations. Choosing the right legal structure goes a long way towards making an organisation such as a co-operative or social enterprise run more effectively.
  3. The advantages and disadvantages of incorporation

    When considering the appropriate legal form to adopt, the members of an organisation need to decide if being incorporated is the best option for them, or whether they should stay unincorporated. This section explains incorporation, and the advantages and disadvantages.
  4. A summary of unincorporated legal forms

    There are several options for unincorporated organisations when it comes to choosing a legal form. This chapter contains details of the main unincorporated forms.
  5. A summary of incorporated legal forms

    This chapter contains details of the main legal forms available to organisations considering incorporation.
  6. Organisational types

    Many organisations may want to be known as a particular type of organisation, in addition to their legal form. This chapter provides a summary of the main organisational types and their characteristics.
  7. Ownership

    Every organisation must have members who are often considered to be the owners. This chapter outlines the key considerations and terms regarding ownership.
  8. Charitable status

    This chapter sets out the main requirements in order to become a recognised charity in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which will differ depending on the legal form and country in which it is registered. See also our supplements focused on Scottish charities and Northern Irish charities
  9. The benefits of charitable status

    Before deciding to create a charity, it is important to consider the effect it may have on the planned activities and whether or not the supposed benefits will actually be beneficial to an organisation and its beneficiaries.
  10. Restrictions of charitable status

    There are several regulations concerning what charities may and may not do. This chapter outlines the restrictions organisations deciding whether or not to be a charity should consider.
  11. Moving forward

    This chapter focuses on an organisation’s internal structure – its governance and operations – which can be reflected in the carefully worded clauses of its governing document and internal policies.
  12. Glossary & Appendices

    Includes a glossary of common terms, abbreviations, International Co-operative Alliance values and support and information to take your co-op to the next level.


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