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A COMPANY IS NOT BOUND BY A PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT

Dictum

It is now a settled principle of company law that a company is not bound by a preincorporation contract being a contract entered into by parties when it was not in existence. No one can contract as agent of such a proposed company there being no principal in existence to bind. It is also settled that after incorporation a company cannot ratify such a contract purported to be made on its behalf before incorporation … But there is nothing preventing the company after incorporation from entering into a new contract to put into effect the terms of the preincorporation contract. This new contract can be in express terms or can be implied from the acts of the company after incorporation as well as from the minutes of its general meetings and board meetings.

— Nnamani, JSC. Edokpolo v. Sem-Edo & Ors. (1984) – SC.89/1983

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A COMPANY’S LEGAL PERSONALITY DIES AT THE DEATH OF THE COMPANY

A company is a legal person with legal capacity to sue or be sued. That legal personality and capacity continues until the company dies a legal death in the process, and as a result of winding up and dissolution.

– Oputa, JSC. Intercontractors v. National Provident (1988)

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PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT NOT BINDING IS A COMMON LAW RULE

The rule that the company is not bound by a pre-incorporation contract purportedly made by it on its behalf, even if ratified by it after incorporation, is a rule of common law and not a statutory provision.

— Ogundare, JSC. Societe Favouriser v. Societe Generale (1997) – SC.126/1994

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COMPANY’S DIRECTORS MAY DEAL WITH ASSET OUTSIDE RECEIVERSHIP

The Receivership in the instant case which does not necessarily result in the liquidation or winding up of the company, the right to deal with the assets in the receivership are revived at the termination of the receivership. In all cases the right of the directors of the Company to deal with the assets of the company not in receivership or other matters not suspended are not affected by the appointment of a Receiver/Manager over the assets of the Company. The directors of the company do not by virtue of a receivership become functus afficio for all purposes of the company.

– Karibi-whyte, JSC. Intercontractors v. National Provident (1988)

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TESTIFY: ANY OFFICIAL CAN TESTIFY FOR A COMPANY

It is not necessary that it is only that person who carried out the function on behalf of the company that must testify. Not at all, as any official of the company well equipped with the transaction and or related documents would suffice to testify. – Peter-Odili JSC. Chemiron v. Stabilini (2018)

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OBJECT CLAUSES OF A COMPANY IN ITS MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION

The object clauses are no more than a list of the objects the company may lawfully carry out. They are certainly not objects that the company must execute. It is fairly common knowledge that most companies in drawing up the objects clauses of the memorandum of association cover a spectrum far wider than what they can accomplish immediately. It seems to me that the inclusion of the terms of the preincorporation agreement in the memorandum of association of a company is an indication of a strong desire by the contracting shareholders that the proposed company after its incorporation should execute the terms of the agreement so included. This can be taken together with the acts of the company after incorporation in determining whether a new contract has come into existence.

— Nnamani, JSC. Edokpolo v. Sem-Edo & Ors. (1984) – SC.89/1983

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A COMPANY IN WINDING UP IS NOT DEAD YET; A COMPANY IS DEAD UPON DISSOLUTION

In Progress Bank of Nigeria Plc. V.O.K. Contact Point Holdings Limited (CA 3) (2008) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1069) 514, the Respondent obtained judgment against the appellant (a wound-up bank). The Appellant sought to appeal the decision but the Respondent filed an objection to the capacity of the Appellant to file a Notice of Appeal on the ground that, it was dead and that only its liquidator could file such appeal on its behalf. The Court of Appeal held thus:- “l must say straight away that, there is a world of difference between the winding-up of a company and the dissolution of a company. Under the provisions of Section 454 (1) and (2) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, a company dies once the Court orders the dissolution of the company. The revocation of the company/bank and order of Court winding – up same does not indicate its death. The appointment of a liquidator is for the purpose of ensuring the smooth burial of the company. See Nzom v. Jinadu (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 51) 553; CCB (Nig.) Ltd V. Onwuchekwa (2000) 3 NWLR (Pt. 647) 65. There is nothing before us to show that Progress Bank of Nigeria Plc has been dissolved. It is so clear that the said bank is under a winding-up proceedings. In such a state, the bank is seriously ill, but not dead. That is the support of Section 417 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990. My Lords, a company/bank is certified dead on its dissolution, but where the bank as in this case is under winding up proceeding it has not died. It is gravely ill, it can sue and maintain an action in Court, but no action or proceeding can be brought against it except with the leave of the Court. In CCB (Nig) Ltd v. Onwuchekwa (2000) 3 NWLR (Pt. 647) page 65 at 75 the Court of Appeal said: “A company under winding up proceedings has not died. It is still alive but perhaps sick.”

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