By cooperative societies is meant an association for the primary purpose of promoting its members financial interests in that they participate in the enterprise as consumers, suppliers or similar. Any return over and above a normal return on any capital contributions, will as a rule remain in the business or be divided between the members on the basis of the volume of their business with the enterprise. None of the members have any personal liability for the enterprise's liabilities.
Cooperative societies might be particularly relevant where the benefit of participating in the cooperative is more important than the return on invested capital. The members actively participate in the cooperative; either as consumer or supplier, and the profits is normally distributed according to each member's level of participation.
The Norwegian Act relating to cooperative societies lays down requirements for the minimum contents of the memorandum of association and statutes. A cooperative society must always be formed by at least two persons and shall always have at least two members. The promoters can be both physical persons and legal entities.
Registration of cooperative societies in the Register of Business Enterprises is mandatory, and notification must be sent within three months after signature of the memorandum of association. The company cannot take on any obligations before it is registered in the Register of Business Enterprises, unless otherwise provided by the memorandum of association or by law.
The name of the enterprise shall include the word 'samvirkeforetak' ('cooperative societies') or the abbreviation 'SA'.
European cooperative societies are regulated by the Act relating to European Cooperative Societies (the 'SCE Act'). The act makes it easier for cooperative societies to move their head office to another EEA State without having to first dissolve and reincorporate the enterprise.