Legal Responsibilities

Incorporation

Your club must be incorporated (or a company) and compliant with all that is entailed through incorporation.

Incorporation provides any club with a legal identity distinct from its members, therefore relieving the members of the committee and the club from liability for authorised acts of the club. It is a major protection device for clubs with regard to legal issues; however, it does not prevent actions for negligence against individuals in all circumstances.

Although there is no legal requirement for a football club or association to become incorporated, remaining unincorporated will leave your club in a difficult situation with regard to the law. The law does not recognise a club or association as having any legal existence in its own name unless it is incorporated, and legal rights and obligations can fall on to individual members.

Qualify for insurance

Clubs are also required to be incorporated in order to receive insurance. To become an incorporated body, clubs must register a constitution with the relevant state government body. 

For further details on incorporating your football club visit the relevant sections of your state government websites and liaise with your league.

Constitution

All groups that apply to become an incorporated association are required to adopt and submit a set of rules of association (also known as a constitution).

These rules of association regulate the overall management of the incorporated association (club), providing for important matters such as management committee elections, meetings and financial records.

Significantly these rules can be amended only by means of a special resolution of the members.

Download a constitution template that you can adapt for your club.

What is a constitution?

A constitution is a document establishing a group and setting out the purpose for which it has come together and all of the rules under which it proposes to operate. The constitution must reflect the way in which the club works.

Why do we need a constitution?

A constitution can be seen as complicated and daunting and is usually avoided by most members of the club. However, a club should have a constitution to set out members’ rights and liabilities. It also helps sort out internal problems and is a necessity for your club to become incorporated.

What should be in a constitution?

There are certain matters which should always be included in the constitution for the protection of members. A constitution should specify:

  • Qualification for membership stating who is entitled to be a member; and who decides applications for membership (usually the committee)
  • Whether application for membership should be in writing and whether referees should be named
  • Reasons for a membership to be cancelled other than by resignation, e.g. overdue subscriptions
  • Classes of members and their rights, such as honorary life members who have all the entitlements of ordinary members but who are not eligible to vote
  • The manner in which a general meeting can be called to resolve an issue
  • Powers of the committee which enable committee members to manage the day to day running of the club
  • Whether the secretary and treasurer can be one and the same person (ideally they would be separate to maximise accountability)
  • The number of members of the committee
  • The regularity of meetings and numbers for a quorum
  • The manner and reasons for a person to be expelled or suspended from the club
  • The number of trustees in whom club property is invested, how many are entitled to act in any particular situation and on whose authority they are obliged to act
  • The manner and circumstances for committee members to be indemnified out of club funds in the event that they incur any liability on behalf of the club
  • The manner of winding up including the manner of distribution of assets to members, or conversion of those assets to cash and then distribution

The constitution should define the rights and duties of individual members and those of the committee members who are elected to run the club on a day-to-day basis.

The secretary should always keep the constitution up to date so there can be no confusion about the rules at any given time. It is sound practice to send copies of all amendments to those who hold copies of the constitution.

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