Social Business Compliance Introduction

Compliance is how well a business follows the legal and regulatory requirements that govern its business

Young social business members meeting at a cafe table

It is essential that you understand what is required of your social business and that you have all the processes in place to make sure you are complying with the law.

When you start a social business there are various legal and regulatory aspects of that business which must be considered and complied with. These vary depending on the nature of the business, the legal structure you have chosen for your business, and the activities undertaken.

Social businesses must consider both their one-off compliance obligations when the business starts and their ongoing obligations. Good legal and regulatory compliance is seen as a key part of running a successful social business.

These pages address the main requirements that should be considered by those setting up a social business and is intended to help you and those involved through some of the compliance issues.

Want to discuss topics in this guide further? Contact or your dedicated Business Advisor.


Download the whole Social Business Compliance Guide as a PDF:



The guide uses the following key terms to cover a range of meanings:

An organisation of any size, complexity or legal status that has social aims and objectives and uses its profits for those purposes.

The people who make up the governing body of the social business. They may be called Directors, Board of Directors, Trustees, Board of Trustees, management committee or executive committee

The main things a social business does – the service provided, or the goods / products sold.

A business’s customers, clients, or service users, i.e. those you provide goods and services to.

Different types of funding or activity agreements entered by the social business. They may be called Service Level Agreements, Memorandum of Understanding, grant agreements, funding contracts or partnership agreements.

Any organisation that has incorporated as a limited company, a Company Limited by Guarantee, or a Community Interest Company (known as a CIC), a registered Society or Charitable Incorporated Organisation (known as a CIO)*. On incorporation, an organisation becomes a legal entity that exists separately from its membership.

* These are the most common structures associated with social businesses. Other options such as a Limited Liability Partnership are beyond the scope of this guide.

An organisation that exists as a group of individuals or members who have jointly come together for a common purpose but have not formed a separate legal entity. The organisations and the individuals involved are one and the same.

The legal form chosen for your social business.

The formal document which sets up an organisation. The governing document can be referred to as a constitution, articles of association and society rules, depending on the nature of the legal entity created.

The legal and regulatory requirements governing a business.