|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
On the 10th May 2001, IVU becoma a company limited by guarantee registered in the UK. This was a decision made by council to boost the status of IVU and the first step towards becoming a UK registered charitable company (in the same way as the UK Vegetarian Society). The current constitution remains unaffected although it was converted into company articles and memorandum of association.
The intention is that IVU will eventually become a UK charity with all the corresponding status and tax benefits this incurs, and becoming a company is the first step on the way (All the medium to large UK charities are converting to companies now because of the extra protection it gives). What effect does this have on the membership? Actually very little. The main IVU council members will become company directors (unpaid of course apart from expense) and elected by the membership in the normal way. IVU is classed as a "not for profit" company. We kkep our existing constitution and the company is "wholly owned" by its membership. I am the company secretary and deal with the necessary returns to the UK Companies House and Inland Revenue. All the directors can live outside the UK, (if necessary), the only criteria of a UK company is that we have a UK registered office (mailing address) which is currently the UK Vegetarian Society who have kindly agreed to do this.
As a company, we are liable to UK corporation tax but we have an offshore account , we won't have to pay any tax. The only effect this change has on the membership is that in the unlikely event of IVU going bust and winding up with debts, all members must pay £1 only (one British pound each) towards the cost of those debts. In the event of IVU being sued (heaven forbid!) then all directors are protected as the funds are limited.
Before we become a company, all the council (as officials of the organisationn)
were individually and collectively liable for any debts, so becoming a
company protects the council and this security may encourage more members
to serve on the council. The move to becoming a UK charity is a little
more complicated and involves changing the constitution so council will
work on the changes required in conjunction with the UK charity commission.
These changes will need to be agreed upon by the membership, so they wil
be circulated in due course for comments. If anyone has any concerns or
queries over the process please feel free to e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org