Suits by and against Societies

Suits by and against societies are governed by specific legal provisions to ensure that these entities, recognized under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and other relevant state legislation, can legally enforce their rights and also be held accountable.

Suits by Societies:

Societies, once registered, acquire a distinct legal status, separate from their members. This status enables them to initiate legal proceedings in their own name for various purposes, such as:

  • To enforce contracts made by or with the society.
  • To sue for damages or recovery of property.
  • To seek injunctions to protect the society’s interests.
  • To assert their rights under intellectual property laws, if applicable.

The ability to sue ensures that societies can pursue legal remedies to protect their assets, enforce their rights, and fulfill their objectives. The process of filing a suit involves the society acting through its designated representatives, as per its governing documents or resolutions passed by its governing body.

Suits against Societies

Similarly, societies can be sued in their registered name for a variety of reasons:

  • Breach of contract.
  • Tortious acts leading to damages.
  • Disputes over property ownership or rights.
  • Employment-related disputes.
  • Compliance with statutory and regulatory obligations.

When a suit is filed against a society, it is typically required to respond and defend itself through its representatives. The outcome of such suits can affect the society’s operations, financial health, and reputation.

Representation in Legal Proceedings

The legal representation of societies in suits by or against them is generally handled by the officers or members authorized by the society’s governing body. This authorization is often stipulated in the society’s rules and regulations or through specific resolutions passed by its governing body. The representatives act on behalf of the society, ensuring that its legal interests are adequately protected and pursued.

Jurisdiction and Legal Compliance

  • The jurisdiction for suits by or against societies is determined based on the subject matter of the suit and the geographical location of the society’s registered office or of the cause of action.
  • Societies are expected to maintain meticulous records and documentation to support their legal positions. This includes contracts, meeting minutes, resolutions, and correspondence relevant to the matter at issue.


There may be certain limitations on the types of legal actions that societies can engage in, based on the specific provisions of the Societies Registration Act, 1860, applicable state laws, and the society’s own by-laws. For instance, societies typically cannot distribute profits to their members, which may limit their ability to engage in commercial disputes outside the scope of their stated objectives.

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