We can register most Community Interest Companies, and we are an agent for Co-operatives UK and can register any society using their model rules. However, we also provide our own rules - multistakeholder social co-operatives, also known as the 'Somerset Rules'.
These rules have certain advantages over existing model rules provided by Co-ops UK and others:
- they enable a co-operative enterprise to be 'shared' by more than one
group of stakeholders - for example, a community supported agriculture
scheme could be 50% controlled by producers, and 50% by consumers. Or a
business could be 60% controlled by its workers, and 40% by the local
- they are designed to enable the widest range of options for financing
your co-op by issuing shares to members, and to outside investors.
- they closely follow co-op principles - even those like education and
sustainable development that are often not referred to in rulebooks.
- they are 'social accounting ready', so that future co-operators must
evaluate their success at achieving the co-operative's stated mission.
We should say that in many cases - maybe most cases - the model rules
that are already widely used are perfectly satisfactory. However, we
think these new rules will open up new possibilities for co-operative
In 2012 and 2014 we fully revised and overhauled the rules, and
developed a version for use as a Community Interest Company limited by
guarantee, and another for Community Benefit Societies. More recently, we have looked at the use of the rules with Social Enterprise Mark accreditation, and FairShares principles - see below.
See the files below for more information on when these rules might be
useful and how to go about adopting them. Existing co-ops wishing to
convert can follow the same process as for registration, but note the
lower charge and let us know your current registration details. You will
also find examples of membership policies, standing orders and first
year social accounts, which may be useful as templates for your own
About the Somerset Rules
What's new in the 2014 Rules
Somerset Rules for Co-operative Societies
Somerset Rules for Community Benefit Societies
Somerset Rules for Community Interest Companies
How to register a Somerset Rules Co-op Society
How to register a Somerset Rules CBS
How to register a Somerset Rules CIC
Sample standing orders
Sample membership policy
Sample social accounts
Click for details.
The FairShares Model is a philosophical basis for businesses that distribute rewards fairly among stakeholders including founders, workers, consumers and investors. Click here to find out how to use Somerset Rules as the basis for a FairShares enterprise.