A period of public consultation has been launched to seek views on proposed new legislation for co-operative societies.

Currently, the Industrial and Provident Societies (IPS) Acts 1893-2021 provide the statutory basis for the formation and general operation of industrial and provident societies, which are primarily co-operatives.

However, it has been long accepted that this primary legislation is no longer fit for purpose.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has now completed “a comprehensive review” of the existing statutory code; this included public consultations in both 2009 and 2016.

The department said that the responses it previously received helped to inform the development of the proposed new law.

This latest consultation will give stakeholders a further opportunity to provide views on a number of specific issues as the draft is finalised.


The proposed legislation will see the introduction of modern corporate governance, accounting, compliance, and reporting requirements for co-operatives.

The department outlined that the provisions are similar to the Companies Act 2014 while still recognising the distinctive characteristics of co-operatives.

It said that the changes would protect stakeholders and increase the possibility of investment.

Some of the other main parts of the proposed legislation include:

  • Updating the functions and powers of the registrar and matters relating to registration, amalgamation, strike-off and restoration; shares and share capital;
  • Making it easier to set-up and operate a co-operative – by reducing the minimum number of founding members and providing for audit exemptions, where appropriate;
  • Providing flexibility so that co-operatives can address other issues in their own society rules.

Commenting as the public consultation was opened, Minister of State with responsibility for company regulation, Robert Troy said:

“This is the culmination of a number of years of work by my department and is the most far-reaching reform of the legislation in almost 130 years.

“The proposals will consolidate, modernise and strengthen the legislative basis for the sector and enshrine the co-operative model in legislation for the first time,” the minister said.

The deadline for submissions on the proposed new legislation is 5:00p.m on Friday, February 25, 2022.