Introduction to Incorporation
(update to report at the 2017 AGM)
The need to change …..
Maidenhead Lawn Tennis Club is currently defined as an ‘Unincorporated Association’ and, as such, individual Committee Members find themselves personally financially liable for any claims made against the Club. Whilst the Club has Insurance Policies in place to provide some level of protection, it is by no means clear that these will be adequate or can be relied upon to pay out in the event of a successful claim, indeed an anonymized enquiry indicated the opposite. Should litigation/claims commence, no matter how spurious, they would be directed at an individual club member who immediately becomes liable for all defending costs; whilst the club would endeavor to meet those expenses and initiate a claim against a club policy, the time and stress this would cause are never recognized or adequately compensated.
As a Club we are fortunate in many aspects – we financially sound, we own our land and property, we have a large Junior membership, Nigel leads an exceptional coaching team and we employ Karen to run our Administration. However, whilst not overtly obvious, the statistics indicate that each of these contribute to a ‘high risk’ profile. We operate in an increasingly avaricious and litigious environment and it cannot be assumed that claims will not be made against us. We believe it is unreasonable to expect volunteer Committee Members to accept such risks and liabilities.
Changing our structure to a Company Limited by Guarantee creates an entity, defined by law, which can ‘sue and be sued’, thereby removing personal liability from a member (or members) of the Club. MLTC is certainly not alone in pursuing this change, many other tennis clubs have already changed their structure and the governing bodies of clubs across the wider sporting community are encouraging their member clubs to do likewise. The LTA have documentation and Consultants specifically tailored to help clubs make the change and we are availing ourselves of these facilities.
The Proposal we presented at the 2017 AGM was given unanimous approval and this started the process of Incorporation, it did not seek to immediately dissolve our current structure and the associated Trust holding the (property) assets of the club – this will only be done once the process has been completed and only then by a majority vote at a specially convened Extraordinary General Meeting.
We have engaged a specialist firm of Lawyers and work has begun on the Articles of Association, drafts of which will be published on these pages for consultation and comment. We will also be engaging professional financial and specialist tax advisers as the need arises to ensure that the Club is provided with robust, accountable advice.
There will undoubtable be many questions, some of them may be known to us already and can be answered immediately, others will arise as work progresses. We welcome input from all our Members as we change our legal structure from that dating back to our origins in the 19th Century to one more appropriate to the 21st.