Be Prepared – Incorporated Societies Law Reform

January 2015 Article, updated June 2018 According to comic Tom Lehrer, “Be Prepared” is the Boy Scouts’ marching song.  That clarion call should now be resounding in the ears of all societies and New Zealand lawyers as replacement of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 looms (possibly 2020). All lawyers, whether or not in private practice and whatever their legal specialty, are fair game if they are associated with a not-for-profit organisation – lawyers are asked to join committees and people assume we know the law, including law we have never looked at. According to the website of the Registrar of Incorporated Societies, at 30 June 2013 (the latest information I could locate when this article was originally written) there were 24,476 registered incorporated societies and 21,782 registered charities (charities which are either trusts or societies registered under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 – the numbers of each are not known). Given that there were, respectively, 802 and 747 new registrations in the 20123-2013 period, and allowing for some dissolutions, by now we may have around 28,000 registered incorporated societies and 25,500 registered charities (both trusts and societies). Those charitable societies registered under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 (perhaps around a quarter of registered charities registered under that Act) will be transferred to the new incorporated Societies Act regime. Constitution review This all means that we may now have over 34,000 incorporated societies whose constitutions will need to be reviewed in the proposed 4 year transitional period after the new Incorporated Societies Act is passed. According to “Snapshot of the Profession” at 1 February 2018 (28 February 2014) we have around 7,690 lawyers in private practice...