Understanding CIC Articles of Association

cover image for blog entitled "CIC Articles of Association" featuring richard jobling CEO of thecompanywarehouse.co.uk

In the realm of Community Interest Companies (CICs) in the United Kingdom, the Articles of Association serve as a crucial document, dictating the governance structure and internal regulations of the company. Tailoring these articles to meet the specific needs of a CIC is essential, given their unique position between traditional profit-driven companies and non-profit organizations. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of CIC Articles of Association, outlining their importance and the specific clauses that differentiate them from standard company articles.

The Significance of Articles of Association for CICs

The Articles of Association are effectively the constitution of a CIC. They provide a framework for operation and management, setting out how decisions are made, how directors are appointed, and detailing various members’ rights. For CICs, the articles must also include specific provisions that comply with CIC legislation, ensuring that the company is committed to benefiting the community.

Key Elements of CIC Articles of Association

1. Asset Lock

The asset lock is a fundamental clause that must be incorporated into the CIC Articles of Association. It restricts the transfer of assets to ensure they are used for the benefit of the community. It also sets out the circumstances under which assets can be transferred and to whom, typically another asset-locked body such as a charity or another CIC.

2. Dividend and Interest Cap

CICs limited by shares must include in their articles the specific details of the dividend cap which restricts the level of dividends paid to shareholders. This ensures that the primary focus of the CIC is the pursuit of its community interest objectives rather than the maximization of shareholder profit. For CICs limited by guarantee, which do not have shares, this is not applicable.

3. Directors’ Duties and Responsibilities

While much of the directors’ duties mirror those of directors in any other company, the Articles of Association for a CIC must reflect the additional responsibilities that come with running a community-focused enterprise. These might include the duty to consider or report on the community impact of their decisions.

4. Membership Rules

If the CIC has a membership structure separate from the directors or shareholders, the Articles of Association must detail how members are admitted, how they can exit, and what their voting rights are in the general meetings.

5. Reporting Requirements

CICs are required to report annually to the CIC Regulator on how they have fulfilled their community purpose and how their activities have benefited the community. While not always detailed in the articles, it’s good practice to acknowledge this requirement and have internal processes that support compliance.

Model Articles vs. Bespoke Articles

CICs can adopt ‘model’ articles provided by the CIC Regulator, which are pre-drafted to ensure compliance with CIC legislation. These model articles are suitable for many CICs and can be adopted at the time of formation. However, some CICs may require bespoke articles that are specifically drafted to meet particular needs that the model articles do not address.

Drafting and Adopting CIC Articles of Association

The drafting of CIC Articles of Association should be undertaken with great care, considering both the compliance with CIC legislation and the specific governance needs of the company. Once drafted, they must be filed with Companies House as part of the process of forming the CIC.

Amendments to the Articles

Any changes to the Articles of Association after incorporation must be agreed upon by the members (and in some cases the CIC Regulator) and filed with Companies House. It’s crucial to note that changes to key provisions, like the asset lock, require approval from the CIC Regulator.


The CIC Articles of Association are not just a legal requirement; they are the backbone of how the CIC operates and affirms its commitment to community interest. Given their importance, drafting these articles often requires professional input to ensure they align with both the letter and spirit of CIC legislation. Whether a CIC is just starting out or contemplating changes to its governance structure, the Articles of Association are a living document, central to its integrity and success as a social enterprise.


How to Register a CIC.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a community interest company?

Community interest company  Vs Charity.

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