The role of the Registrar

What we can and can’t do

The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 sets out the Registrar’s roles and responsibilities. These do not include intervening or arbitrating in the internal matters of incorporated societies.

What we do…

The Registrar is responsible for maintaining a public register of incorporated societies, and for receiving and processing the documents that they are obliged to file. These include applications for incorporation, notification of a change to the registered office address, alterations to a society’s rules, annual financial statements and dissolutions.

What we don’t do…

While the Registrar has some limited powers of inspection to ascertain whether societies are complying with the Act – which relate largely to document-filing requirements – these do not extend to intervening in internal matters.

Should an incorporated society experience problems regarding how it is being run or the way its rules are being interpreted or applied, it must resolve them itself or seek legal advice, if appropriate. The Registrar does not provide a dispute resolution or legal advisory service for societies.

Resolving internal disputes

The Incorporated Societies Bill, introduced to Parliament on 17 March 2021, has proposed changes to the rules for governing incorporated societies.

Once the Incorporated Societies Bill becomes law, a society’s constitution will need to address how disputes are dealt with. There may already be such a clause in your rules. If not, your society may wish to update its constitution now, rather than later. This would need to be done at a general meeting. Before you update your rules, however, be sure to seek professional legal advice. It may also be useful to research how other societies deal with disputes.

Read more about the Incorporated Societies Act review

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