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Membership conditions

Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your membership

Discover the terms and conditions of AOP membership, also known as the Membership Byelaws, here. Don’t forget to read them with our Membership Grades and Definitions and the Articles of Association, which contain provisions relevant to the operation of the AOP and your membership. 

Our terms and conditions and membership packages are subject to change from time to time. If you have a query about membership, contact us today.

In this section

1. Title

1.1 The association shall be called the Association of Optometrists (“the Association”).

1.2 These byelaws are made pursuant to article 7 of the Articles and every power permitting or authorising the same and shall be known as “The Membership Byelaws”. The Membership Byelaws shall come into effect on the day of the resolution of the Board adopting the same and shall replace any previous rules or byelaws of the Association which shall cease to have any effect.

2. Determination of The Membership Byelaws

The Board shall be empowered to determine and settle any matters in connection with The Membership Byelaws, or such other matters as the Board may consider appropriate not being inconsistent with the Articles, and may delegate its powers, generally or in an emergency, to one or more Directors of the Association or the Chief Executive or a deputy for the Chief Executive who may be appointed by the Board or the Chief Executive

3. Definitions

In The Membership Byelaws the words standing in the first column of the table below shall bear the meanings set opposite to them respectively in the second column thereof, if not inconsistent with the subject or context:

 Words

 Meanings

 "the Acts" the Companies Acts 1985 to 2006.
 "the Articles" the articles of association of the Association from time to time.
 “the Board” the board of Directors of the Association.
 “the Council” the representative body for the Association consisting of councillors elected and appointed in accordance with the Council Byelaws.
“the Council Byelaws” the byelaws of the Council from time to time.
“Director” each person who is a director of the Board of the Association.
 “GOC” General Optical Council.
 "Medical Malpractice" is the form of insurance responding to claims arising from a malpractice incident, meaning any bodily injury or death of a patient caused by any negligent act, error or omission committed in breach of the professional duty.
“Members” all members of the Association as defined in the Membership Grades and Definitions.
“the Membership Grades and Definitions” the membership grades and definitions defined in paragraph 4.1 of The Membership Byelaws.
“Opticians Act”
Opticians Act 1989 or any succeeding re-enactment.
"Professional Indemnity" is the form of insurance responding to claims from an incident resulting in financial loss to third parties caused by any negligent act, error or omission during the provision of professional services committed in the capacity as an examiner, expert witness, researcher (as further defined), adjudicator, lecturer, teacher, optometric advisor.

4. Membership

4.1. The Association’s membership shall consist of the various classes of member as set out in the list of Membership Grades and Definitions.  The rights attaching to these memberships together with the annual membership fee are set out in the Membership Grades and Definitions. 

4.2. All Members agree to adhere to and be bound by The Membership Byelaws in their entirety and acknowledge that any failure to do so may result in being excluded from the Association. 

4.3. Upon application to become a Member, and at any renewal of membership, the applicant shall declare how they practise. 

4.4. New members, including lapsed members who are re-joining the Association, will not be able to access the Association’s insurance or legal services for pre-existing claims. 

4.5. New members, including lapsed members who are re-joining the Association, will be required to sign a declaration form that they declare any existing or known potential legal or insurance issues. 

4.6. If it becomes clear that a Member was aware of such an issue as referred to in paragraph 4.5 of The Membership Byelaws at the time of application for membership and did not declare it, the Member’s insurance cover may be invalid. 

4.7. New members, including lapsed who are re-joining the Association, who have previous settled claims are required to disclose the details. In such circumstances, the Association will exercise its discretion as to offering membership. 

4.8. A new signed declaration form will be required following a Member lapsing their membership. (Members will be considered lapsed after two months non-payment.) 

4.9. The Board has the discretion to determine a Member’s grade.

5. Admission to membership

5.1. No person shall be admitted as a Member unless they have: 

5.1.1. paid the annual membership fee applicable to their membership grade as set out in the Membership Grades and Definitions in such manner as agreed by the Association from time to time together with any unpaid membership fees or amounts due under paragraph 7.9 of The Membership Byelaws in relation to any period of previous membership;

5.1.2. satisfied the Association that they meet the required membership criteria relevant to their membership grade as set out in the Membership Grades and Definitions; and in their application for membership, they have made the required truthful statements and signed a declaration attesting to the truth of those statements.

6. Benefits of membership

6.1. Members shall be entitled to the following benefits from the Association unless otherwise specified in The Membership Byelaws and Membership Grades and Definitions, or determined by the Board from time to time:

6.1.1. to vote in accordance with the entitlements as set out in the Council Byelaws together with the right to be elected and appointed to the Council in accordance with the Council Byelaws;

6.1.2. to vote at general meetings of the Association, in accordance with the Articles of Association;

6.1.3. the Association’s legal and defence cover, including medical malpractice insurance, product liability insurance (excluded for overseas members), and certain other legal defence services and advice;

6.1.4. advice on matters related to the practise of optometry provided generally to Members or specifically in answer to individual Members’ enquiries;

6.1.5. products or services used or purchased by the Member either directly or from approved third parties upon validation of membership.

6.2. The benefits of the Association’s legal and defence cover under The Membership Byelaw 6.1.3 may be provided at the discretion of the Association in the following circumstances, subject to any fee which may be determined by the Board, without the beneficiary being entitled to any other benefits of membership of the Association unless otherwise specified in The Membership Byelaws or determined by the Board from time to time:

6.2.1. any person who ceases to be a Member shall be entitled to the benefit of medical malpractice cover under The Membership Byelaw 6.2 in respect of acts committed whilst a Member and for which they were insured by the Association prior to ceasing to be a Member. Any such person must provide instructions without undue delay throughout the life of the claim. All other member benefits are excluded;

6.2.2. the executors or administrators of any person who died whilst a Member shall be entitled to the benefit of legal and defence cover under paragraph 6.2 of The Membership Byelaws in respect of acts for which the deceased Member was insured by the Association up to the time of their death;

6.2.3. optometry and dispensing optics businesses in which all the Optometrists who are employed or engaged by the business are Members shall be entitled to the benefit of medical malpractice cover under paragraph 6.2 of The Membership Byelaws in respect of the vicarious liability of the business for acts of optometry staff employed or engaged by the business in their proper course of work. It is a condition precedent to this right of indemnity in respect of vicarious liability for the acts of qualified employees and locums and unqualified staff under their supervision that the business seeking the indemnity shall:

6.2.3.1. check the qualifications and credentials details of each qualified employee or locum (i.e. Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and ophthalmic medical practitioners). Ensure that all Optometrists are Members and they are thereby qualified and insured to work in the practice, and

6.2.3.2. seek a contractual obligation from each qualified employee or locum that after leaving the business they shall maintain their medical malpractice insurance in respect of the work they have done in the business for the duration of the limitation period for claims for negligence. 6.2.4. Lay Practice Owner membership may be provided to any business in which none of the owners is an Optometrist or Dispensing Optician and, in the case of a company, none of the directors is an Optometrist or Dispensing Optician, subject to confirmation that all employed Optometrists are Members. Lay Practice Owner Members are not eligible for any membership benefits aside from medical malpractice insurance. It is a condition precedent to this right of indemnity in respect of vicarious liability for the acts of qualified employees and locums and unqualified staff under their supervision that the business seeking the indemnity shall; 

6.2.4.1. check the qualifications and credentials details of each qualified employee or locum (i.e. Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and ophthalmic medical practitioners). Ensure that all Optometrists are Members and they are thereby qualified and insured to work in the practice, and

6.2.4.2. seek a contractual obligation from each qualified employee or locum that after leaving the business they shall maintain their medical malpractice insurance in respect of the work they have done in the business for the duration of the limitation period for claims for negligence.


7. Membership fees

7.1. All Members shall pay an annual membership fee as may from time to time be provided for in accordance with The Membership Byelaws and the Membership Grades and Definitions.

7.2. The Board shall determine annually the level of annual membership fee for each Member’s grade for the following year which may include a late payment fee, confirmed at each renewal period.

7.3. The first membership fee will cover the year current when the applicant is admitted to membership and the Member shall pay a subsequent annual membership fee due on each subsequent first day of January to cover the year beginning on that day. Provided always as follows namely that:

7.3.1. any such Member admitted after the 31st January in any year shall pay on admission a first annual membership fee being a proportion of a whole year’s membership fee as determined by the Board. Provided that if such Member does not renew their membership on the first day of January following their admission as a Member or their membership is terminated in accordance with paragraph 8.1 of The Membership Byelaws, then the entire year’s membership fee payable under paragraph 7.3 of The Membership Byelaws (less the amount already paid in accordance with this paragraph 7.3.1) shall become due and payable immediately.

7.3.2. a Member moving Member grade may be required to pay on admission in respect of the rest of the then current year an additional membership fee equal to the proportionate part of a yearly sum representing the difference between the annual membership fee of the current Member grade and the new Member grade by the Board.

7.4. The new or lapsed Member shall with their application pay their annual membership fee but these sums shall be refunded to them if they fail to be admitted as a Member. The Association shall inform any candidate who fails to be admitted as a Member, and a candidate who is not informed within one month of their application that they have failed to be admitted shall be deemed to have been admitted as a Member in accordance with their application.

7.5. Members who lapse their membership must either backdate their membership or agree to the declaration that their membership excludes the period in which their membership was lapsed. These Members will be required to sign a new declaration form on re-joining the Association as per paragraph 4.5 and 4.8 of The Membership Byelaws. Any known issues must be disclosed at the point of re-joining and will be excluded from cover as per paragraph 4.4 of the Membership Byelaws.

7.6. Any Member whose annual membership fee falls into arrears for two months or such longer period as the Board may determine shall cease to be a Member, but the Board may at their discretion restore to membership any person who has ceased to be a Member by virtue of paragraph 7.6 of The Membership Byelaws upon payment of the arrears of the membership fee or upon such other terms as they may think fit to impose.

7.7. From time to time the Association may make special offers to encourage Member recruitment. These offers may include incentives that vary The Membership Byelaws for those eligible for and who accept such offers (‘Eligible Acceptances’). The Membership Byelaws will be varied only as regards the Eligible Acceptances and only to the extent specified in the material accompanying the membership offer in question, all other aspects of The Membership Byelaws remain in force as regards all Members (including Eligible Acceptances) unless otherwise notified.

7.8. The Association is an HMRC approved (list 3) professional body. If a Member is a UK tax-payer, their membership fee may be tax deductible (eligible for tax relief). A Member should contact their tax advisor for advice. When a Member joins the Association, or on renewal of membership, they will be provided with a ‘Confirmation of payment or renewal’ receipt. A Member can use this as evidence for their claim. 

7.9. In any circumstance where a Member’s membership fee remain unpaid following the due date for payment, the Association specifically reserves the following rights:

7.9.1. to demand immediate payment of any outstanding sums due; 

7.9.2. to withdraw the facility to make subsequent payments by instalment;

7.9.3. to charge an administration fee of £20 plus any costs of recovery, and

7.9.4. to add interest to any outstanding amounts at 4% above Band of England base rate.

7.10. The Chief Executive may exercise discretion in any individual case. 

8. Cessation of membership

8.1. A Member's membership of the Association shall terminate immediately (subject to the absolute discretion of the Board):

8.1.1. in accordance with paragraph 7.6 of The Membership Byelaws; or

8.1.2. on death of a Member (medical malpractice cover under the policy extends to the estate of a deceased member); or

8.1.3. upon the Member committing any serious or repeated breach or non-observance of any of The Membership Byelaws; or

8.1.4. upon a Member being found guilty of any fraud or dishonesty or acts in any manner which in the opinion of the Board brings or is likely to bring the Member or the Association into disrepute, or is materially adverse to the interests of the Association; or

8.1.5. if a Member is not registered on the Opticians Register kept by the General Optical Council and their membership grade specifies the requirement. 

8.2. Any Member whose membership of the Association is terminated:

8.2.1. forfeits all rights to, or claim upon, the Association or its property or funds that he would have by reason of his membership;

8.2.2. is not entitled to any return of membership fee (save that the Chief Executive may in any individual case in which it is considered that special circumstances justify that course remit, in whole or in part, any membership  fee payable by any Member), and

8.2.3. remains liable for any membership fee or other fees outstanding at that time including but not limited to a fee equivalent to the Member’s annual membership fee for the duration of any claim being covered by the Association at the time of the termination of the Member’s membership.

8.3. Any Member may at any time resign their membership after a minimum initial twelve month period, giving notice in writing to the Association and shall thereupon cease to be a Member from the date notification is received, but without prejudice to their liability to pay to the Association any membership fee or other sum owing by them at the date of their resignation. Any monthly or quarterly Direct Debit already instructed for the next due date will remain payable and will not be refunded. 

8.4. A Member can change grade at any point. Should a Member who does not pay by monthly or quarterly Direct Debit, move to a grade with a lower membership fee than they were on, a refund cannot be offered during a membership year. Should a Member who does not pay by monthly or quarterly Direct Debit, move to a grade with a higher membership fee than they were on, they will be required to pay any difference in membership fees in full before their membership grade is changed. For Members paying via a monthly or quarterly Direct Debit, adjustments will be made to any outstanding fees that have not been processed. The Member wanting to change grade must do so in writing before any changes can be made. 

8.5. In circumstances where a Member ceases to be a Member by virtue of paragraph 8.1.5 of The Membership Byelaws the Chief Executive or any person delegated by them may exercise a discretion to permit the former Member, some or all the associated member benefits until such time as the former Member is reinstated on the Opticians Register. In this circumstance, the former Member may be required to pay all or any part of the associated period membership fee. Once restored, membership can be restored upon completion of a declaration form. 

9. Excess

There is a £500 excess on each and every claim but it will only be levied if Members have been offered advice by the Association in relation to a complaint, disregarded the advice and the complaint has progressed to a claim, or in exceptional circumstances as agreed by the Board.

Membership indicates acceptance of the excess. 
 

 

10. General conduct of Members

10.1. All Members shall maintain the highest standard of professional conduct and undertake not to bring the Association into disrepute.

10.2. The Members shall keep confidential any confidential information relating to the Association unless they have the prior consent of the Board to disclose such information.

10.3. The Members shall at all times be bound by and must submit to The Membership Byelaws and any rules, regulations or recommendations set out by any governing body applicable to the profession of the Members.

11. Status of the rules

11.1. If there is inconsistency between any of the provisions of The Membership Byelaws and the provisions of the Articles, the provisions of The Membership Byelaws shall prevail as between the Members.

11.2. The Members shall, when necessary, exercise their powers of voting and any other rights and powers they have to amend, waive or suspend a conflicting provision in the Articles to the extent necessary to permit the Association to be administered as provided in The Membership Byelaws.

12. Unpaid membership fees

12.1 The Association is a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation, and membership fees form the majority of the income. Unpaid membership fees therefore impact directly on the Association’s work and ability to plan and provide services for Members. Consequently the Association reserves the right to take necessary steps to recover unpaid membership fees, including legal action where necessary.

12.2 If Members anticipate any problems with the payment of their membership fee, they should contact the membership team at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss. In particular, Members should ensure they contact the membership team if they intend to cancel their Direct Debit instruction and/ or use another form of payment; otherwise the Association will incur bank changes for seeking a Direct Debit payment without an active mandate.

13. How we communicate with Members

13.1 On joining the Association, Members agree to provide their personal details, including name, address, date of birth, email and phone number. By giving this information, Members are agreeing that the Association may contact them from time to time (by post, email, phone and text message), with information related to membership, service, products and events.  13.2 Members may at any time opt out of receiving communications, excluding those relating to membership renewals, from the Association by contacting the membership team or by changing their details on the email preference centre. 

13.3 Members are under a continuing duty to notify the membership team of their up-to-date postal address, telephone number and any e-mail address.

14. Privacy

14.1. The Association takes member privacy very seriously. Occasionally, in order to enhance your membership, the Association may provide selected information (excluding emails and ‘sensitive personal data’) to other organisations. This will only be done, however, when the Association has approved by licence or other agreement the way in which those organisations will use the information, with a view to improving the value of the Association  membership.

14.2. Any Member who does not wish other organisations to receive any information about them should inform the membership team or select the relevant option on their membership form.