The Registrar of Friendly Societies is responsible for the assessment and registration of applications and any subsequent amendment of rules which societies are obliged to render to the Registrar, and to ensure that registered societies meet their statutory obligations with regard to filing returns, which once registered are made available for inspection by the public.

In this regard the following three classes of body come under the remit of the Registrar of Friendly Societies:

  • Industrial and Provident Societies
  • Friendly Societies 
  • Trade Unions

The Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 was enacted on the 21st of July 2014. The various sections of the act will be commenced on differing dates, to be confirmed. The Act is designed to reduce the amount of red tape and regulatory burden around Co-operatives. On this basis several key changes have been made:

  • An Examinership process, currently only available to companies, has been introduced for Industrial and Provident Societies
  • The societies will now be able to set their own limit on individual shareholdings 
  • The period for the preparation and submission of annual returns and accounts has been extended 
  • The submission of triennial returns will no longer be required
  • An annual return will need to be filed by Industrial and Provident Societies
  • Restrictions on fund raising have been eased for non-agricultural societies
  • It will no longer be possible to register a new Friendly Society
  • The process for restoring cancelled societies to the Register has been made easier

The Registry of Friendly Societies have issue the following guidance in relation the annual return date for Industrial and Provident Societies:

The annual return shall be submitted no later than –

(i) 31 October, where the date of its last published balance sheet falls between 1 January and 30 June, and

(i) 30 April where the date of its last published balance sheet falls between 1 July and 31 December (of the preceding year)

Therefore:

Any society which publishes it balance sheet between January and end June this year are not required to file and annual return until April 2015

A society with a balance sheet date between January and end June this year are not required to file an annual return until October 2015 as long as they have filed an annual return in 2014.