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APPELLANT CASE WAS BASED ON THE POST-INCORPORATION CONTRACT

Dictum

The facts averred in the statement of claim which are deemed to be true for the purpose of the objection taken in limine show that the appellant and the 1st respondent company entered into a new contract in the terms of the preincorporation contract after the 1st respondent company had been incorporated. In the circumstance, the rule of company law that a company is not bound by a preincorporation agreement entered into by its promoters and that the company cannot ratify such agreement after its incorporation is inapplicable to the facts of the case as pleaded in the statement of claim. As the appellant alleged that his claim was founded on the post-incorporation agreement whereas the respondents said the claim was based on the preincorporation contract, the dispute cannot be resolved in limine. The issue can only be determined upon the hearing of the case on the merits.

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

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CAMA MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT TO BE RATIFIED

All that has now changed in this country for section 72(1) of CAMA makes it possible for a pre-incorporation contract to be ratified by a company after its incorporation and thereby becoming bound by it and entitled to the benefit thereof. There seems to be no dispute in this appeal about this conclusion.

— 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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RATIONALE BEHIND NULLITY OF PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT

In Kelner v. Baxter (1866) L. R. 2 C.P. 174 Erie C.J. explaining the rationale of the principle [pre-incorporation contract] said: “as there was no company in existence at the time, the agreement would be wholly inoperative unless it were held to be binding on the defendant personally…where a contract is signed by one who professes to be signing as agent, but who has no principal existing at the time, and the contract would be altogether inoperative unless binding upon the person who signed it, he is bound thereby; and a stranger cannot by a subsequent ratification relieve him from the responsibility”.

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ANY OFFICIAL CAN GIVE TESTIMONY FOR A COMPANY

Comet Shipp. Agencies Ltd v. Babbit Ltd (2001) FWLR (Pt. 40) 1630, (2001) 7 NWLR (Pt. 712) 442, 452 paragraph B, per Galadima JCA (as he then was ) held that: “Companies have no flesh and blood. Their existence is a mere legal abstraction. They must therefore, of necessity, act through their directors, managers and officials. Any official of a company well placed to have personal knowledge of any particular transaction in which a company is engaged can give evidence of such transaction.”

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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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RATIONALE FOR PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT NOT BINDING AT COMMON LAW

At Common Law, a pre-incorporation contract was not binding on the company because there was no principal on behalf of whom an agent could have contracted. The company was not permitted to ratify or adopt it, and it could not, after incorporation, enforce the contract, nor sue, e.g. for damages for breach of contract – Natal Land etc Co. Ltd. v. Pauline Colliery Syndicate Ltd. (1904) AC 120. These common law rules were a source of considerable inconvenience for the promotion of business.

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

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