The LETSystem Design Manual

3.1 The organisation of local Registries


A Registry has no need to be incorporated or constituted into a formal body.

The key roles are:

  • stewardship - responsibility for integrity
  • recording co-ordinator - responsibility for maintenance of accurate accounts

Integrity and accountability are reinforced by a group of advisors.

Registry Organisation

The Registry is the primary level of organisation for LETSystem operation. It can be as large or as small as you like.

The functions of the Registry are listed in Section 2.1. When we organise to carry out these functions, we intend the structure and the processes to reflect those of the LETSystem itself. As a result, we adopt the Fundamentals of the LETSystem (see Section 1.3), including the cost-of- service principle. This promotes a coherence which gives clarity of thought and action to all concerned, both inside and outside the Registry.

A Registry has little or no need to be formalised as an incorporated body. Because of its clear functions and limited scope, it can exist as an unincorporated association of individuals, without the need for constitution. Registry organisation is along similar lines to that proposed for the organisation of the LETSystem itself (see Section 3.2).

Any person or organisation (the steward/trustee) can open and announce a Registry - thereby providing an opportunity for individuals to declare their willingness to participate. This person specifies the conditions of registration - geographic region, purpose, registration fees etc.

Roles and Responsibilities

The registry steward is responsible for the integrity of the Registry. The steward thus has the right to decline an application for an account. While the right to use "personal" money is considered inherent, the exercise of this right within any particular Registry is the responsibility of, and lies at the discretion of, the registry steward.

The recording co-ordinator is responsible for the organisation and supervision of recording facilities for account-holders. This includes accurate entry of transactions, co-ordination of multiple recording channels and the provision of accurate statements to account-holders.

The recording co-ordinator sets the charges payable by account-holders, in consultation with the steward. The recording co-ordinator is responsible for obtaining the most cost-effective recording services for the account- holders and paying the recorders from the account charges. The steward must ensure that the cost-of-service principle is adhered to.

The recording co-ordinator also:

  • manages the cash funds from the registration fees to support the recorders in their function.
  • develops "cash for local" exchange opportunities so as to maintain cash viability and eliminate the need for cash input from fees etc.

Accountability is reinforced by a group of advisors. This group is self- selecting and self-sustaining. It has no authority beyond making recommendations to the steward.

Stewards and advisors are unpaid until and unless their duties turn into a major job. Recording co-ordinators, on the other hand, are paid, but only in the local money.

As additional systems are introduced, each of these will determine its own steward, board of advisors etc.

The use of specific technical names and tight definitions for these jobs is intentional. There is no consent for stewards, co-ordinators or advisors to do anything outside of the activities covered by the Account-Holders’ Agreements.

Appendix - Notes on Organisation

  • A primary function of the registry is just to define the locality - economic, social and operational rather than geographic, although that too. No definition is exclusive. It is the most organised registries that will attract the most activity. Our opening moves must show we do actually know what we are doing, and this means demonstrating that we have an organisation that is immediately compatible with the adoption of local currencies by the mainstream.

  • The only centralised feature of the Registry is the database of IDs. The concept of "membership" of the Registry is therefore not appropriate , or else misleading. All other aspects of the Registry, including the accounting services, can be decentralised as far as is required.

For instance, the accounts will generally be kept by several different community recording agencies, with the support of many different recorders to do the data inputting. Recording co-ordinators and the recorders themselves are independent sub-contractors providing a service to the participants. The Registry will probably authorise several different recording agencies. For example the credit union, local bookkeepers, a community answering service, and so on. Typically, in the beginning, of course, there will be only one authorised recording agency - the Registry itself.

  • The primary currency system attached to the Registry is run as a LETSystem. This means that there is no incorporation or constitution, and no formal requirement to "join" as a member, so ensuring a wide accessibility throughout the community. No formal agreement exists between trading individuals, other than the relevant Account-Holders’ Agreements.

  • Other systems within the Registry are completely decentralised, self- regarding and self-defining social arrangements.

  • The Registry has an implict agreement with the registrants to maintain accounting. What if the operators fail to do this? If the community is keen to continue, it will re-establish the Registry with other operators. If not, who cares? Who will sue? So what is the point of legal structures?

With the registry LETSystem, however, Account-Holders’ Agreements apply (see Section 1.4). This is a form of contract which defines the responsibilities of the operators, together with the mutual responsibilities of the participants. Further legal requirements in the form of constitutions etc are unnecessary.

  • It becomes clear that a successful Registry will have a minimal structure and facilities. It is critically important that a Registry must stay a very light, low asset organisational entity. It CANNOT afford to put money into equipment, premises and so on, as it would very quickly lose its shirt when the existing data processing and financial clearing houses begin to offer high tech and low cost services. If a Registry has any substantial investment, it will sink like a stone, taking credibility with it, and in the process misdirect considerable effort that could be better placed.

  • Data processing, such as entry of transactions, and all other office tasks will be done by account-holders, preferably as independent sub- contractors, and will generally be paid in local money only.

  • A Registry holds no significant assets. Account-holders can lease assets to the registry in return for local money. If equipment such as computers and photocopier is owned by a community organisation, it may be possible to lease that equipment for local money, which may then be used by that organisation for work within the community.

This route is particularly useful when equipment is offered in the form of a grant. The assets themselves can be held by a local trust, which then receives a steady stream of local money from the Registry, which can then be put to good work by the trust. This enables money to work twice, once for the Registry and again for the trust. This gives the Registry the opportunity to demonstrate that it operates at "cost of service" and can therefore repay any grants or loans.

Landsman Community Services Ltd Paper No.3.1 Version No 1.3 17 August 94
Written by Michael Linton of Landsman Community Services Ltd. and Angus Soutar of Robert Soutar Ltd.
Compiled 10-01-95 by Andy Blunt and Adrian Steele of LETSgo Manchester
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