Legal framework

The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.

It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.

In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the legal framework analysis results for Jamaica.

The Co-operative Societies Act and the Co-operative Societies Regulations govern all classes of Cooperatives in Jamaica, no matter what their common objective may be. The Act and the Regulations were promulgated in 1950 and were most recently amended in 1992. It should be noted that, there are no special or exclusive laws for most co-operatives, however the Act and the Regulations contain special provisions for Credit Unions.


Cooperative Friendliness

The lack of the recognition of cooperative principles in other applicable legislations and other regulations with the foregoing at best reflects that there is a lack of cooperative friendliness in our legislation which may be coined as “more cooperatively unfriendly than friendly”.


Key recommendations for improvement

  • Comprehensive amendment and/or overhaul of the existing legislation to become more modernized with an emphasis on provisions to improve the capitalization of cooperatives.
  • Future constitutional reform should include recognition and support for cooperatives in order to ensure that the development of public policies will take into consideration the characteristics and attributes of Cooperatives.
  • Recognition of the cooperative principles when enacting legislation and/or amending existing legislation on fiscal policies.
  • Establishment of a basic accounting system for smaller cooperatives with special regard given to agricultural cooperatives.
  • Harmonization between cooperative legislation and labor laws.



This report was formulated principally by reviewing the existing Act and Regulations of Cooperatives as well as other legislation governing the operation of legal entities in the jurisdiction. Relevant documentation from the cooperative movement was taken into account along with general information from the DCFS as well as articles and papers on the subject area.  While there seems to be a greater availability of information internationally, locally the information could be deemed ‘sparse’at best. This lack of local information reflects our conclusion that the legislative framework in the jurisdiction generally needs to be seriously reviewed and updated.

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