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An association is the simplest and favourite legal structure, usually chosen by new groups.  An association may also be a charity, if the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland determines it is charitable.  More on starting a new charity.

Type of organisation:  Association

Legal Status:  Unincorporated

Governing Document:  Constitution or ‘rules’.  Click here for the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s model governing documents.

Associations are unincorporated, so the organisation does not have any independent existence in law.  This means that the Management Committee members are personally responsible for any debts or claims against the organisation that cannot be met out of the organisation’s own resources.

Key Features

An association has:

When is it appropriate?

An association is generally appropriate when one or more of the following applies:

Management Committee members of an uncorporated association must be 18 years and older.

More on the advantages and disadvantages of different legal structures.

The Commission has also produced new guidance on new Powers for Unincorporated Associations provided by the 2008 Charities Act.