English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
, an unincorporated association is a group of people who come together # for a common purpose # intending to create a legally binding relationship between themselves. The range of possible unincorporated associations is limitless, but typical examples are: :* An amateur football team who agree to hire a pitch once a week and split the cost. :* Residents of a street who agree to pay into a collective fund for street sweeping, etc. :* A trade union :* A professional association Unincorporated associations are cheap and easy to form, requiring a bare minimum of formalities to bring them into existence (and can even be formed without their members realising it). They are also extremely flexible, with examples of tiny associations of just a few people, and national organisations with thousands of members. From a legal point of view, the most significant feature of an association is that they are
unincorporated Unincorporated may refer to: * Unincorporated area Sign at Heinola, an unincorporated community in Otter Tail County, Minnesota.">Minnesota.html" ;"title="Otter Tail County, Minnesota">Otter Tail County, Minnesota. An unincorporated area is ...
. This means they are generally unable, in their own name, to own property, to enter into contracts, and to commit (or defend themselves against) a wrong in tort.


There is no statutory definition of an unincorporated association, but there are judicial definitions. Lord Justice Lawton in ''
Conservative and Unionist Central Office v Burrell Conservatism is an aesthetic, philosophy of culture, cultural, social philosophy, social, and Political philosophy, political philosophy, which seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservat ...
'' defined an unincorporated association as follows: The essential elements are thus (i) that there exist members of the association; (ii) that there is a contract binding them ''
inter se Inter may refer to: Association football clubs * Inter Milan, an Italian club * SC Internacional, a Brazilian club * Inter Miami CF, an American club * FC Inter Sibiu, a Romanian club * FC Inter Turku, a Finnish club * FK Inter Bratislava, a former ...
'' (i.e., multilaterally, binding each one of the members to every one of the other members); (iii) that they have a common purpose which is not business; and that (iv) there must have been a moment in time when a number of persons came together to form the association (although those persons need not be the present members).


"Unincorporated" indicates that the association is not a
legal person In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...
. If, say, the group of people wants to enter into a contract to hire a football pitch, then they cannot do this themselves but must appoint someone (usually one or more of the members) to act on their behalf. Similarly, an unincorporated association cannot own property (even its own funds): the members must appoint someone, usually a treasurer or committee, who will hold the property as a
trustee Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term {{Short pages monitor