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THE Friendly Societies Act, 1875, is, we need hardly say, founded upon the recommendations of a Royal Commission which long and laboriously investigated the subject with which it deals. It is both a consolidating and an amending Act. That is to say, it not only repeals all former Friendly Societies Acts, and gathers into one statute provisions which were heretofore scattered through several, but it alters the previously existing law in numerous important particulars. While it affords additional facilities for the formation of these societies and the conduct of their business, it is also intended to furnish securities against improvident management; and to prevent the wasteful dissipation of funds, the arrangement of contributions on a basis inadequate to the realization of the benefits promised, or the pursuit of unfair and unjust conduct on the part of the managers of a society towards any of its members. Although its provisions are to some extent permissive in their character, rather pointing out what should be done than com

pelling it to be done, there are also many of a morc stringent character; and it may fairly be anticipated that none of them will be wanting in salutary effect. Be that as it may be, the new Act, which is now the only one in operation with regard to the organization of Friendly Societies, forms a complete code of the statute law on the subject; and it is to its enactments exclusively that the members or managers of these b dies must in future look in order to ascertain either their rights or their duties. We have endeavoured to facilitate its perusal by an explanatory Introduction, and by notes to such of the clauses as seemed to require elucidation. We have also inserted in an Appendix the clauses of some other acts which have a bearing upon Friendly Societies; and by the compilation of a very full and minute Index we hope to have rendered it easy for any one to ascertain with facility what are the legislative enactments affecting any point in which he may be interested.


August, 1875.





THE new Friendly Societies Act is, as the preamble sets forth, one not only to amend but to consolidate the statute laws relating to these bodies. It entirely repeals all the previous Acts of Parliament on the subject; and for the future the whole of the statute law on the subject will be found within its four corners, with the exception of a few provisions in the Income Tax Act, the Savings Bank Act, and the Medical Act, which are given in the Appendix. In other words, it is, as far as it goes, a complete code. At the same time it introduces a variety of amendments into the law, many of which are of great importance.

It will be seen, when we come to deal with the clauses of the Act, that it does not, except as to a


single clause, come into operation until 1st January, 1876, and that it expressly recognizes the validity of any transactions prior to that date which would have been legal according to Acts previously in force on the part of the societies registered under them. After that date all registered societies will come under the new Act, without further or other registration. They will, in fact, be taken, for all purposes, to be societies registered under the present Act.

It will still, as before, remain optional with friendly societies whether they are or are not registered. But it will be seen that the Act offers considerable inducements to register by the privileges which it confers upon, and the facilities which it offers to, registered societies. And it must not be forgotten or overlooked that although nearly all the clauses of the Act-indeed, all the clauses which confer privileges or facilities—refer exclusively to registered societies, there are several clauses imposing liabilities or restrictions which apply equally to registered and unregistered societies. It would be in a great measure correct to say, that in so far as it imposes liabilities on these societies, the Act applies to all; and that in so far as it is advantageous to them, it applies only to registered bodies.

These general observations being premised, we shall now proceed to deal in detail with the provisions of the Act.

The first clause provides that the Act may be cited as the "Friendly Societies Act, 1875."

Under the second clause, the Act is to come into

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