Legal News for UK Co-ops and Mutuals

This is a blog where brief information about developments in UK Co-op and mutual law will be reported. Readers of this blog will also find Linda Barlow's Co-operatives UK Blog at helpful. For an network of academics working on co-ops, mutuals and social enterprises visit

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Location: Leicestershire, United Kingdom

Interested in sharing information and knowledge around legal issues for co-ops and social enterprises in the co-oplawnews blog and thoughts on random issues in the "real" blog.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Co-op Membership vs Share Ownership

This short report from Co-operativesUK highlights just how many more people are co-op members than directly hold shares in stock exchange listed companies. This is hardly a surprise and does not take account of indirect ownership of shares in companies via pension funds and insurance policies. However, as the report points out, that indirect ownership gives no voice in the enterprise whereas co-operative membership does.

The comparative international table of co-op membership and direct share ownership as a percentage of the population is interesting. Who would have thought that co-op membership penetration would be 40% in the USA and only 21% in the UK? US credit unions, energy and telecoms co-ops explain that, as the report points out. Those co-ops are very big in the US while UK co-op membership is mainly in consumer co-ops.

Friday, February 03, 2012

New Regulators for Co-op and Community Benefit Societies

At the end of January 2012 the Government published detailed draft plans for the transfer of the role of registering co-op and community benefit societies after the new Financial Services Bill becomes law.

Currently the role belongs to the FSA but when the FSA's functions are transferred to two new regulators this function will belong mainly to the new Financial Conduct Authority. In essence that body will carry out the basic regulatory function while the new Prudential Regulation Authority will deal with issues specific to any societies that are authorised to operate in financial services - most obviously credit unions. However, there is a certain amount of overlap in the roles of the two bodies.

The detailed proposals are to be found in clauses 47 to 50 of the Financial Services Bill 2012 published on 30th January 2012 and in the Draft Mutual Societies Order published at the same time to aid parliamentary consideration of the Bill.

This represents a decision to effectively continue with the present arrangement rather than transferring the function of registering societies to another regulator dealing with similar issues such as the CIC Regulator.

This has the advantage that the co-operative and community society structure is less likely to become a variation of the company structure but the disadvantage that the function may remain, as it has been with the FSA, a rather marginalised and minor function of a large orgainsation mainly focused on other issues.

© Ian Snaith 2012 This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Noderivs 2.0 England and Wales Licence. To view a copy of this licence visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA

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