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Resolving club disputes
By George Coucounis

A club is a society of not less than twenty persons associated together for social or other non-profit purposes and which, in order to obtain legal entity, must be registered according to the law. For the registration of a club in the Clubs’ Registry, an application from the founders or the committee of the club must be filed with the Registrar, accompanied with the incorporation act, the names and addresses of the members of the committee, the club statutes signed by the members and dated, the emblem of the club and a description of the movable and immovable property owned or held by the club at the time of the application. The club statutes must provide for the purpose of the establishment of the club, its name and registered office, the conditions for the entry, withdrawal and expulsion of the members, their rights and obligations, the financial resources of the club, how the club will be represented legally, the governing bodies, the terms under which a meeting of the club is convened and decides, how the accounts of the club are audited and what will happen with the property of the club when it ceases to exist.

The Registrar of Clubs, if satisfied that the purpose of establishment or the functions of a club to be registered are lawful, accepts the application and registers the club in the Registry upon payment of the fee payable and issues a certificate of registration, which is published in the official gazette of the Republic and constitutes adequate proof regarding the date of registration and that the legal requirements of its incorporation have been fulfilled. No club can be registered whose name, in the opinion of the Registrar, contradicts the national security or public interest or morals. When the certificate of registration is issued, the club registered acquires full legal entity which is lost with its dissolution. The ability of a club does not extend to legal relations which presuppose the status of a physical person. As long as the club statutes do not prevent the entry of new members, it is always allowed. The members are entitled at any time to withdraw, provided they pay their subscriptions due. Usually, all the members of a club have equal rights unless the statutes provide otherwise. The members who withdraw from a club have no right over its property and their status as members cannot be the object of representation or be transferred or inherited.

Club disputes may arise with regard to issues concerning the administration, the elections, the amendment of the statutes, the convening of a general or special meeting of the members, as well as other issues which cannot be resolved between the members or the governing bodies of the club. The question which arises is who is the competent authority to resolve such disputes, the Registrar of Clubs, the District Court or the Supreme Court? The answer is given in a recent judgment issued by the Supreme Court, whereby it dismissed the recourse regarding disputes which arose concerning the seat of the president of a club’s committee, stating that such problem should be resolved before the District Court through a legal action. The relevant recourse was filed against the decision of the Registrar of Clubs who approved the amendment of an article of the club statutes, on the ground that the decision was taken in violation of the provisions of the statutes, without the general meeting of the club having been lawfully convened for the amendment of the statutes. The Registrar raised, among others, a preliminary objection that the recourse should have been dismissed as unacceptable, given that club disputes are resolved through a legal action before the competent District Court and not through a judicial review in accordance with article 146 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court dismissed the recourse, deciding that the relevant provisions of the law for the registration of clubs provide that such a dispute, as well as any other issue which may arise with regard to the amendment of the statutes of a club or the elections or even the property owned by the club should be resolved before the District Court of the district where the registered office of the club situates.

George Coucounis is a lawyer specializing on the Immovable Property Law, Leading Partner in George Coucounis LLC based in Larnaca - Cyprus
www.coucounislaw.com - E-mail: coucounis.law@cytanet.com.cy - Tel: +357-24818288.
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