Decree-Law nº 594/74, of 7 November
The right to free association is a basic guarantee for the personal fulfilment of individuals living in society. The State under Law, respecting the individual, may not impose restrictions to associations being freely set up, apart from those directly and necessarily demanded to safeguard the greater and general interests of the political community. In the democratic process underway, the demand for administrative authorisation has to be removed where this restricts associations being freely set up and allowed to develop normally.
The right to set up associations becomes a free act and legal personality is acquired by merely filing the association's statutes. Associations must abide by the specific purposes for which they are created and respect all legislation that underlies and guarantees freedom for all citizens. Therefore, Decree-Laws n°s 39660, of 20 May 1954, on the administrative control of associations, and 520/71, of 24 November, that, in certain cases, subjected co-operatives to the association regime, are expressly revoked.
In these terms:
Using the option conferred by n° 1, 3, of Article 16 of Constitutional Law n° 3/74, of 14 May, the Provisional Government decrees and hereby promulgates the following to act as law:
The free right to form associations for purposes that to do not oppose the law or public morals, is guaranteed to all citizens over the age of 18, in enjoying their civil rights, without the need for any prior authorisation.
Special laws may authorise the right to association for citizens of an age lower than that indicated in the previous number.
No person may be obliged or coerced in any way whatsoever into becoming part of an association, whatever its nature.
Whoever, even if a public or administrative authority, obliges, or exercises coercion to oblige, any person to enroll in an association, will incur the penalties laid down in Article 291 of the Penal Code.
Associations whose purpose it is to undermine democratic institutions or instil hate or violence are not permitted.
Associations acquire legal personality by depositing, against receipt, a copy of the minutes of their constitution and their statutes with the civil government office in the area of their respective head office, after prior publication in the Diario do Governo and in one daily newspaper, with wide coverage in the region. Proof of publication is given by depositing at the same time a copy of each newspaper.
Within eight days counting from the date of the deposit, a copy of the Diario do Governo publishing the statutes should be sent by registered letter, with acknowledgement of receipt, to the agent of the Public Prosecutor's office at the court of the district council where the head office of the association is located, so that this agent, should the statutes of the association not conform to the law or to public moral standards, will have a judicial declaration made for it to be eliminated.
Amendments to the deed of constitution or to the statutes only take effect in relation to third parties after being filed in the terms indicated in the previous number.
The ruling in n° 2 of the previous number is applicable to the amendments referred to in the same number.
Associations come to an end:
At the decision of the general meeting or the body that is its equivalent as laid down in the statutes;
Because of their time has elapsed, if they have been set up temporarily;
If any other cause for elimination is found to exist, as envisaged in the deed of constitution or in the statutes.
Associations should also be eliminated at the decision of the competent common court of ordinary jurisdiction:
When all of the associate’s members have died or have disappeared;
When the association is declared insolvent;
When its purpose has been exhausted or has become impossible;
When the real purpose is illicit or contrary to public morals, or when it no longer coincides with the purpose expressed in the deed of constitution or in the statutes;
When the purpose is systematically pursued using illicit means, that are contrary to public morals or that upset the discipline of the Armed Forces.
In the cases envisaged in sub-paragraphs b) and c) of n° 1 of the previous article, elimination will not take place if the general meeting decides to extend the association or to modify its statutes within the 30 days following the date on which it should come to an end.
In the cases envisaged in n° 2 of article 6, the declaration of insolvency may be required in the general terms of procedural law, as well as by the Public Prosecutor's Office, when any civil or military authority files a complaint or any other citizen claims a legitimate interest.
In the cases in the previous number and in n° 2 of article 4, the association is considered no longer to exist whenever the decision is passed declaring it insolvent or extinct, and the court will notify the civil governor of the district where the head office of the association is located.
Associations that conduct their activity in violation of the ruling in article 4 or that pursue it after the judicial decision has been made to terminate, and those participating in this activity are subject to the penalties envisaged in article 282 of the Penal Code.
Political associations may acquire freely, free of charge or encumbrance, the property indispensable for putting their purposes into practice.
Associations shall publish their accounts annually in the month following that in which they were approved.
It is licit for a political association to associate itself with a political party.
If an association decides to prepare a political government programme and run, on its own, for elections, whether these are local authority elections, the legislative assembly or for President of the Republic, it must become a political party and its activity is then subject to the provisions of the law governing the legal regime for political parties.
The affiliation of Portuguese associations may affiliate with international associations or organizations providing these do not pursue different purposes.
The promotion and constitution of international associations in Portugal depends on authorisation from the Government.
Associations legally constituted in a foreign country are recognized in Portugal providing they meet the requirements for national associations, and they are subject to Portuguese legislation with regard to their activity in Portugal.
A registry of the associations referred to in the previous articles will be kept in the civil government of the district where the association has its head office, where all deeds that alter or eliminate such associations will be recorded.
By simply ruling on this, the Ministry of Home Affairs adopts the measures required to organize the registry, particularly for those associations already existing on the date on which this law comes into force.
Associations will comply with the rulings in Articles 157 and those following in the Civil Code in everything that does not oppose this law.
The special associations and commissions envisaged in Articles 195 and following of the Civil Code and the organising committees of the associations referred to in the previous articles, will notify the agent of the Public Prosecutor's Office of the district where the respective head office is located, in a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, of their constitution, head office and programme, as laid down in ruling n° 2 of article 4 and n° 1 of article 8 of this law.
Law n° 1901, of 21 May 1935, and Decree-Laws n°s 39660, of 20 May 1954, and 520/71, of 24 November, are expressly revoked.
Seen and approved in the Council of Ministers - Vasco dos Santos Goncalves - Manuel da Costa Bras.
Seen and approved in the Council of State.
Promulgated on 4 November 1974.
The President of the Republic, FRANCISCO DA COSTA GOMES.