Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, Nigel, aka LondonSubNigel (3), 26 January 2016
Since it was created in 1997, BLUF has existed in a relatively informal way, organised first by Leon and now by myself. Over recent years, the club has grown in size and scope, with a better website and apps, more active local groups, and more events around the world. We also have many more members donating to support us - for which I am extremely grateful.
While our lack of formal organisation has meant that we are able to do whatever we want, it also has some downsides. At the moment, there is no legally registered entity called BLUF. We don't even have a separate BLUF bank account, and in theory if someone were to sue the club, the webmaster (and potentially other volunteers) could be liable.
And, because BLUF doesn't have a legal existence, it cannot, for example, have a credit card with which to pay its monthly hosting bills. In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem important - charges are put on my card, and donations cover the bills. But the lack of a clear separation between BLUF and me is neither transparent, not sensible.
So, while the present arrangement has been fine in the past, as the club gets closer to its 20th anniversary, it is also necessary to ensure that it will have a secure future. At some stage, inevitably, I will pass on the running of the club to someone else, and I hope that by the time that is done, BLUF will have a structure that will allow it to endure, while still being able to change and evolve easily.
I believe that one of the first steps in doing that is to give the club a legal existence of its own, and so a company, BLUF LTD has been formed. Though this is an organisationally important step, there will be no change in the nature and purpose of the club.
BLUF is now a company of a type known in England as "Limited by Guarantee" which means that it has limited liability. Should BLUF LTD be on the receiving end of any legal action, the company Guarantor - me - will be liable for only £10. In other words, it provides a degree of protection for myself and my successors.
As a legal entity in its own right, it will also be possible to ensure that in the event of something happening to me, the club isn't left in limbo, and other Directors - who will be appointed shortly - will be able to take any necessary steps to keep things running.
The way in which the limited company has been set up also imposes other obligations. Any surplus is to be used for the benefit of BLUF, rather than distributed to shareholders, and there is a legal requirement for accounts to be filed and registered at Companies House in the UK. This, effectively, ensures that our accounts in future will be more transparent.
So, I now have an additional legal title as a Director of BLUF Ltd, but in practice BLUF members will see little change - it will be over a year before our first set of accounts is available for people to view. Meanwhile, the day to day operation of the club will not change in any way, nor will any of our essential principles, particularly the site and BLUF membership being free to those who meet the dresscode.
For those who want the full details:
BLUF LTD is incorporated in England and Wales, company registration number 09969986. The principal objects of the company, as stated in our Articles of Association, and registered at Companies House are