8. Becoming an unincorporated association
Where it is decided to wind up an incorporated association (rather than transfer its operations to another corporate structure), there may be some members who wish to carry on some or all of the old association's activities. Despite the many benefits of being an incorporated entity, it is still possible to undertake a wide range of activities under the status of an unincorporated association. The major disadvantage to operating in this way is that the members become personally liable for any debts or liabilities that the group might incur.
If this course of action is being contemplated, it should be noted that the old association's assets or property could not, in general, be handed on to those running the unincorporated association. This could only occur if it could be established that the unincorporated association was formed for a charitable purpose, and even then, there may be legal objections to such a distribution.
Even if an association continues in an unincorporated form, the group should still seek advice about the organisation's compliance requirements in relation to matters such as taxation, occupational safety and health, and employment awards.
Although this manual primarily addresses statutory requirements for incorporated associations in Western Australia, much of the information could be used as a guide for running an efficient unincorporated association.