Societies and Charities Law
No New Zealand University provides any academic courses on the law relating to societies, and where academic courses touch on charities they do so briefly and do not normally focus on governance structures for charities. Lawyers advising societies and charities therefore usually “learn by doing,” and much depends on the working environment where that knowledge is acquired and developed. Because of this lack of academic training, most lawyers lack specialist skills in this work and, as a result, Mark von Dadelszen advises not-for-profit entities, other legal firms, and individuals throughout New Zealand, on issues involving societies and charities, with that work including drafting and amending rules and trust deeds, advising on strategic and governance issues, chairing meetings (especially where disruptive behaviour is anticipated), advising on disputes, and acting as counsel in Court proceedings.
As summarised below, Mark’s societies’ and charities’ knowledge and skills are underpinned by years of experience in the governance of, and advice to, a wide range of community and professional organisations, as well as experience during his professional career in other areas of law relevant to societies and charities. As a partner of Bannister & von Dadelszen from 1972 to 2017 and a Consultant until early 2021, he continues a century-long tradition of involvement in, and providing legal advice to, community organisations.
Mark’s experience led him to write (and, initially, self-publish) a book about meeting procedure, Members’ Meetings in 1995, followed by writing Law of Societies in New Zealand – Unincorporated, Incorporated and Charitable in 2000. He is editing both books for 4th Editions to be published after the new Incorporated Societies Act is enacted (rewriting the Law of Societies in New Zealand, in particular, requires extensive research into legislation and Court decisions in all the Australian States and Territories which have statutes comparable to what we are likely to have in New Zealand). Mark has presented numerous seminar sessions on not-for-profit issues and governance, as well as meeting procedure, for community groups, and education providers including the New Zealand Law Society.
For many years Mark wrote regular articles on societies, charities and meeting procedure for the Bannister & von Dadelszen website and for various periodicals, and up-to-date versions of many of those articles may be found at LINK. He was a member of the Project Reference Group (2011-2013) assisting the Law Commission in its review of and proposed reforms to the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, was subsequently engaged by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment to draft model society rules for a society constitution-builder, and is advising client societies to be proactive in anticipation of the replacement of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, which may well be enacted in 2021.