Reform of the Law Relating to Unincorporated Nonprofit Associations
affiliation not provided to SSRN
June 1, 2008
University of British Columbia Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, p. 115, 2008
There are three primary modes of collective nonprofit activity: the nonprofit corporation; the charitable trust; and the unincorporated nonprofit association. The residual or default mode is the unincorporated nonprofit association. Whenever people band together and agree to pursue common nonprofit purposes and they do not take the steps required to incorporate or to create a charitable trust, they form an unincorporated nonprofit association. Unlike the coherent bodies of law that govern nonprofit corporations and charitable trusts, the law applicable to unincorporated nonprofit associations in common-law Canada is a hodgepodge of rules that are not well known and not well adapted to contemporary social needs. It is a body of law that is ripe for reform.
This comment reviews both the law of unincorporated nonprofit associations and the recent efforts to reform this area of the law. It begins by setting out some background information on the types of unincorporated nonprofit associations, the number active in Canada, and their typical activities. Then, it briefly explores the development of the law applicable to unincorporated nonprofit associations in the nineteenth century and examines how this body of law has led to a number of problems in connection with selected legal issues. The comment concludes by noting several law reform projects in Canada and elsewhere, with a special emphasis on the ongoing project to create a harmonized legal framework for unincorporated nonprofit associations in North America, which is being carried out jointly by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and the Mexican Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
Keywords: volunteers, unincorporated nonprofit association, not-for-profit organization, charity, charitable organization, legal entity
Date posted: June 8, 2009