Who handles disputes within an association?
The management committee of an association is responsible for the administration of the association, including handling internal disputes between members (in their capacity as members), as well as disputes between members and the association.
What should I do if I have a dispute?
The first step is to try to resolve the dispute directly with the parties involved.
The association's constitution is required to set out a mechanism for the resolution of disputes between members and the association. If it fails to do so, the procedure outlined in the Model constitution will apply.
If the dispute cannot be resolved within the association, you may wish to seek appropriate legal advice or use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service.
For information on ADR services, contact:
- The Law Society of NSW on 02 9926 0333 or visit the Law Society website.
- Visit the NSW Department of Justice website
Can NSW Fair Trading intervene in a dispute?
Fair Trading’s role is to ensure associations comply with the Act, including monitoring financial reporting and other obligations. As the regulator, Fair Trading's authority is limited to those matters stipulated under the Act.
Fair Trading cannot intervene in internal disputes.
Specifically, Fair Trading does not:
- provide legal advice
- act for particular parties to a dispute
- intervene in breaches of the constitution
- intervene in issues concerning membership, the validity of meetings or the validity of elections
- investigate an alleged theft of association funds or other criminal matters - these are matters for NSW Police.
Where a dispute results in conflicting documents being lodged on behalf of an association, Fair Trading may record the association as being “in dispute” on the Register of Incorporated Associations. This effectively locks the Register and no documents will be accepted for lodgement until the matter is resolved by the association.
Where can I get legal advice?
You may get legal assistance from the following sources:
- a legal practitioner of your choice
- Not-for-profit Law (Justice Connect) – by lodging an online enquiry form
- Law Access NSW on 1300 888 529 or visit the Law Access NSW website.
- Community Justice Centres on 1800 990 777 or visit the Community Justice Centres website.
- your local Community Legal Centre, visit the Community Legal Centre website for a list of centres
- The Law Society of NSW on 02 9926 0333 or visit the Law Society of NSW website