Society secretaries

Information for society secretaries, and steps you can take. 

All mutual societies must have a secretary.

In companies, this role is known as the ‘company secretary’. We refer to it as a ‘society secretary’.

We will generally write to the secretary when contacting a society.

The secretary might be a volunteer, or a paid member of staff. In some societies, the secretary has only that role. In others, they combine that role with other responsibilities (eg as a committee member, or general counsel etc). Your rules may cover this point.

Some of the work of the secretary is required by legislation. This includes signing documents sent to us.

Your rules will usually also set out the other duties the secretary has. This might include tasks such as organising general meetings. Other tasks might include looking after the register of members.

Taking on the role

If you’ve become the secretary of a society, you may want to:

  • Check the rules of the society. They should be the ones registered with us. You will find them on the Mutuals Public Register.
  • Create your account on the Mutuals Society Portal. Then link it to your society. You can use this to submit returns and other applications.
  • Read the content on our website
  • Familiarise yourself with the the legislation. Requirements include: names, register of members, and submissions to us. 
  • Check when your next annual return is due, and any audit requirements.

If your society is a co-operative or community benefit society, we have more guidance


Society law does not set out qualification requirements for secretaries. There is therefore no professional qualification required for most society secretaries. Though your rules may set out requirements relating to this. 

Where a secretary is also a director (committee member) of the society there are additional duties

If your society is subject to other regulation (eg, financial services, housing etc.), additional requirements may apply. 

Appointing a secretary

Your rules may say how you appoint the secretary. It is often a decision for the full board of directors. This is instead of it being a decision of a chief executive (or other staff or officer). 

In many sets of rules, the secretary is elected by members. You will need to check your own rules for further details. 

Notifying a change of secretary 

You generally do not need to tell us when the secretary changes. The accounts and return you submit each year will tell us who your secretary is. 

The position is different if you are a friendly society. You must send a notification to us when the secretary changes. 

Acting secretaries

When someone leaves the role of secretary, societies will need to have someone else fill the role. Certain tasks – such as signing rule amendments, can only be done by the secretary. Your rules may cover what happens in this situation.