Advice on legal structures suitable for decentralised, distributed cooperative


#1

Looking for advice or a bit of a steer on finding a legal structure which will work for an emerging, slightly unusual co-op model.

We are an activist translation collective that also functions as an agency. As an Open Coop we perform socially-oriented pro-bono and paid work. Both forms of work are tallied into credits. Our Governance is such that care and reproductive work is valued and rewarded as highly as productive work and we need a legal structure that allows us to work with varying rates of pay for different types of work.

As we are operating as a distributed, digital cooperative (wanting to work with distributed ledger backend) with members in different EU countries the established legal rules and forms may not apply. The result is that we aren’t clear about our choices, their benefits and caveats, and so I am reaching out to see if there is any experience from European/international tech co-ops which might be useful.

Most of our members have their (tax) residence in Spain, yet we are not happy with Spanish coop law. At the moment, I am the only UK based member. However, the collective is designed to be transnational and we are in contact with people from different countries wanting to join.

We are looking at Company Limited by Guarantee and Limited Liability Partnership structures in the UK but with only one UK resident we have questions around banking, signatories and general resilience in goin that route
.
Is there any experience or advice on UK legal structure which would allow for a distributed co-operative organisational form with members not necessarily based in the UK and how to work around or work with only having one member based in the UK, particularly, in terms of banking?
Or, any other advice on alternatives available in the EU or elsewhere?

Any thoughts, comments, reflections, advice or signposting would be really appreciated.

Thanks, in advance,
Bronagh


#2

You might need to ask one of the co-ops that does co-op registrations, the two that I’d suggest are Somerset Co-operative, see their registrations page and Co-operatives UK, see their registrations page.


#3

I can’t help with your query, but I love the sound of your organisation! I have a friend who does translations from Portuguese/Spanish into English so I will mention you to her. Thanks for posting on this and good luck.


#4

This is interesting, perhaps phyles (https://www.guerrillatranslation.org/ask-your-guerrilla-translator-a-gt-faq/#C7) will need co-op legal structures that probably don’t exist yet.

I agree with Chris, Bronagh, you should talk to both Somerset Co-operative and Co-operatives UK. The UK legal system for co-operatives s is a tangled web of complications, so many different possible structures. Talk to the experts!

I noticed on the website, Guerrilla Translation is “an activist translation and general communications collective. Our high quality translations are made by thoughtful humans, not software”.

CoTech is, I guess, an activist and general communications collective, made up of humans! - so if we can help with further discussion about co-operation, OR software help, please do keep in contact :slight_smile:


#5

Thanks, Kayleigh…It’s a slow build in terms of onboarding new members but if she’s interested she should contact direct and we can add her to list.


#6

Thanks, Jonathan I agree…lots of similarities :slight_smile:


#7

Hi @GuerrillaTranslation,

I saw someone from RICOL (https://ricol.coop/wp/) speaking at an event last year. They’re a translators’ and interpreters’ co-op. I’m pretty sure they’re predominantly living and working in Britain so they might not be in the same position in terms of their legal structure, but I thought you might be interested in them nonetheless.

Polly


#8

Super helpful, Polly! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.