Section 39 – 41 and 60 of the Co-operative Societies Act and section 55 of the Friendly Societies Act provide the basis for holding an Inquiry into the affairs of a registered society. An Inquiry is a “systematic investigation of a matter of public interest”, and may be commissioned (a) by the Registrar by legal Order or (b) upon request of a majority of the Committee or (c) upon application made by at least one-third (1/3) of the members of the society or (d) by application of a creditor.

The Enquirer appointed by the Registrar to conduct an Inquiry will examine the financial conditions of the society, that is, Management’s handling of the funds and financial dealings, as well as the operational activities, including but not limited to the daily operations based on the Objects of the society. The Enquirer will also examine the Constitution and the satisfaction of the legal requirements as met or unmet by society. Where there exist numerous breaches, steps may be pursued towards Liquidation of Cancellation, or the Enquirer may also make recommendations for continuity with specific conditions to facilitate viability and effective governance within the society.

A dispute will arise where there may be a claim for any debt or demand due, or any matter which is the subject of some disagreement between two parties within the society, or between the members of the society or between societies, that in any way touches the operations of the society. Section 50 – 51 of the Co-operative Societies Act and section 46 of the Friendly Societies Act make provision for disputes touching and concerning the business of the societies registered under the respective Acts to be settled by the Arbitration Process (Internal Settlement). This process also requires an order for the appointment of an Arbitrator who is authorized to carry out the Arbitration Process.

In matters of dispute, the allegations made by the complainant or aggrieved party would be thoroughly investigated and recommendations made for the best option to settle the matter. The Arbitrator’s award, if there is no appeal, should be final and cannot be referred to any Civil Court. The award can be enforced as if it had been the judgement of a Resident Magistrate. However, if one party or the parties are not satisfied with the determination of the Arbitrator, the decision may be appealed, which would be referred to the Registrar. Should the Registrar administer over an Appeal, his decision on the Appeal is final and cannot be referred to any Civil Court.


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