Are you planning to start an association? How to do it?

Would you like to contribute to the development of your neighbourhood? Connect your neighbours and improve your neighbourhood together? Are you interested in ecology, sports activities or involved in education? Start an association. Its purpose can be any mutually beneficial goal, outside of business.

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What is an association and what is it for?

In Czech law, societies have existed since 2014 as a special form of legal entity, intended for voluntary associations of (at least three) persons who share common interests. Previously, their equivalent was called “civic associations.”

Associations belong to one of the three types of legal persons under private law, namely corporations. In addition to these, Czech law distinguishes foundations (the basis of which is property set aside for a specific purpose, an example is a foundation) and institutes (typically scientific, medical or educational.

Corporations are communities of people or legal entities such as churches, communities of unit owners, commercial companies or associations. Individual special laws deal with them in more detail. The Civil Code regulates one corporation in more detail, the association. This is therefore the right option for a group of persons who do not primarily plan to do business and have a common interest or a common goal that they would like to share together.

Have you had any uncertainties or legal questions about forming an association?

Contact us and a lawyer who specializes in the issue will consult with you and prepare a legal opinion on the whole matter.

Activities of the association

The association may carry out main and secondary activities. The main activity should be aimed at satisfying and protecting the interests for which the association was founded. However, these should not be business. It may, on the contrary, be a secondary activity which serves to support the main activity. The association is therefore a non-profit legal person.

Examples of main and secondary activities are, for example, educating people about reducing food waste, organising seminars on the subject and linking commercial canteens with charities as the main activity and running an e-shop with cookbooks and kitchen aids as a secondary activity. Proceeds from sales are used to cover the running costs of the association.

How to proceed step by step?

If you’ve already decided that an association is right for you, you can proceed to setting one up. The process of setting up an association is a two-step process. First, you must establish the association, then, after the registration court registers it in the association register on your application, the association will come into existence.

Incorporation of the association

You must be at least three to form an association. The Civil Code offers two basic ways to form an association, namely:

  • by agreement of the founders on the content of the statutes, or
  • by a resolution of the constituent meeting.

In both cases, you must adopt the statutes. Their mandatory elements are:

  • Thename and registered office of the association – The name of the association must contain the words “association” or “registered association”, the abbreviation “z. s.”. The name must be different from the names of existing legal entities, so it is worth looking at, for example, the association or commercial register.
  • Thepurpose of the association – this could be any of the purposes mentioned in the introduction – for example, neighbourhood development, nature conservation or the establishment of community gardens.
  • Therights and obligations of the members to the association, or how the rights and obligations will accrue.
  • Designation of the statutory body – The statutory body consists of persons authorised to act on behalf of the association. The constitution must also specify whether the statutory body will be collective (i.e. committee) or individual (i.e. chairman).

Consensus of the founders on the content of the statutes

Typically this will occur if you are a group of enthusiasts who have been talking about your purpose and its form for some time and are in complete agreement on most points of the constitution. Then you can draw up an agreement together on the content of the statutes, which includes:

  • Identification details of you as founders (i.e. at least your name, address and date of birth).
  • A provision stating that the founders have agreed on the wording of the articles of association. It is advisable to indicate that they have also agreed on the composition of the statutory body, the members of which you identify in the agreement.
  • The actual content of the articles of association with all the particulars they must have.
  • Date and place of signature and signature.
  • Convening of the constituent meeting.

This option is more suitable for a situation where your group is large (or you do not even know the exact number of participants yet), you do not know each other that well and you do not have the same idea about the specific form of the association. However, you are united by a common interest, such as preventing the construction of a major traffic structure in your immediate surroundings.

You must call the constituent meeting at least 30 days before it takes place. As the convener of the meeting, you will draw up a constitution and invite those interested in forming the association to the meeting. In the invitation you must state the place, time and agenda of the meeting.

Putting your name on the list of those present at the constitutional meeting can be seen as an application to join the society. Alternatively, mention this fact explicitly there. The constitution is then voted on and must be approved by at least a majority of those present. Anyone who does not agree with them may withdraw their application on the spot. The first members of the statutory bodies are also usually elected at the constituent meeting. Minutes of the constituent meeting must be taken within 30 days.

When is the association formed?

The constituent meeting itself or the approval of the statutes does not create the association for you. Registration in the association register is required for its formation. The register of associations is kept by the registry court, which is the regional court with local jurisdiction.

Tip: The system of courts in the Czech Republic may seem relatively clear and straightforward, but we still encounter a number of questions about it. Are you wondering which court is civil and which is criminal? And do you know where to find the court of record? In our article, we’ll set the record straight.

The application for registration of the association shall be submitted on a special form of the Ministry of Justice by the founders or a person designated by the constituent meeting.

The completed form can be printed and the proposal can be submitted in paper form. In this case, you must have the petitioner’s signature officially authenticated.

You may also submit the completed form electronically. In this case, you must sign the proposal with a recognised electronic signature or send it via the data mailbox of the person submitting the proposal for registration.

The form must be accompanied by annexes, which are:

  • The property owner’s consent to the location of the association’s registered office.
  • Consent of a member of the statutory body (e.g. the chairman) to be entered in the public register.
  • Minutes of the constituent meeting or agreement on the content of the statutes according to the chosen form.
  • Current statutes signed by the proposer or founding members according to the chosen form.
  • Authorisation to engage in business or other activities, if the association needs such authorisation for its main or secondary activities.

Then send everything to the registry court, which will notify you if there are any deficiencies.

Approval by the Registry Court

If the registry court finds that your proposal has any defects or deficiencies, it will ask you to remedy the defects or complete the missing documents within 3 working days from the date of receipt of the proposal.

The registry court will then take action within 5 days of the filing of the petition:

  • register the association; or
  • decide to reject the application.

Should the court remain inactive (i.e., the association has neither registered nor decided to refuse registration), the association is automatically deemed to be registered on the thirtieth day after the filing of the petition.

Registration of associations in the Register of Associations is free of charge. You do not pay any fees for registration.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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