Clubs and Societies

Compliance | Legal Obligations

Compliance | Legal Obligations

The main legal issue's a club should consider relating to privacy, health and safety, liability, and tax.

Privacy Act 2020

Your core obligations are as follows:

  1. Only collect personal information for a designated lawful purpose
  2. Eliminate unnecessary information collection, or unfair or unreasonably intrusive information collection
  3. Disclose what is being collected, why it's being collected, how it's being stored, who has access to it, if the collection is compulsory (or optional) and how they can go about viewing, editing, or deleting their private information where relevant
  4. Collect information directly from the person at hand
  5. Seek permission to collect information
  6. Have reasonable safeguards in place to prevent loss, misuse or disclosure of personal information
  7. Safely discard information when it is no longer necessary
  8. Only disclose personal information in limited (legally approved) circumstances
Health and Safety Work Act 2015 (HSWA)

The HSWA identifies clubs, societies, and other non-for-profit volunteer organisations as PCBU’s if you have one or more employees. If you have no employees, you will not be considered a PCBU. For the majority of our clubs, you are then not recognized as a PCBU and therefore have no legal obligations under the HSWA.

You do however have obligations to OUSA in being an affiliated club, Otago University if hosting events on campus and lastly but most importantly moral obligations to your club members. OUSA expect the committee members of our affiliated clubs and societies to:

  • Identify, assess and control hazards
  • Involve and inform your members of the above processes
  • Monitor identified hazards
  • Ensure members have the appropriate safety clothing and equipment
  • Ensure club equipment is fit for purpose

Your affiliation to OUSA may be jeopardized if there are reasonable grounds for concern over your club’s health and safety management systems.


The majority of our Clubs and Societies are unincorporated legally. While there are benefits to this a limitation is that they don't "legally exist" as an entity. This means they can't own property, borrow money, and in many cases receive external funding. It also means members of the group committee, and possibly all members are personally responsible (liable) for any obligations the group takes on, and for any judgement made against the group by the courts. Executive members need to seriously consider this, before putting their club name down for something!


Clubs and Societies that take in any income are subject to tax obligations through IRD. What you pay will depend on your legal status and how much money you turn over. Many of our clubs are granted exemption based on the minute amount of money they turn over. However, that all need to be supported with good paperwork. Click here for our Clubs and Societies return guide. NB: Dunedin Community Accounting have been very helpful when it comes to clubs filing their tax returns. 

Incorporated Societies Act 1908 and Registered Charities

If your club holds a legal status such as an incorporated society or registered charity you will have additional legal obligations to meet. There are pro's and con's for establishing yourself as a legal entity and these can be discussed with our CDO on a case by case basis.