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CAMA ALLOWS COMPANIES TO RATIFY PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT

Dictum

The intention of the legislature in enacting sections 72(i), 624(i), and 626 of CAMA is quite clear. It is relevant to re-emphasis that the rule of construction of statute is to adhere to the ordinary meaning of the words used according to the intent of the legislature. The provisions of sections 624(1) and 626 make it abundantly clear that existing companies who wish to ratify pre-incorporation contract agreements could do so because the Act (CAMA) applied to them. In section 650(i), the interpretation of words used in part A of CAMA, “Company or existing company means: a company formed and registered under this Act or, as the case may be, formed and registered in Nigeria before and in existence on the commencement of this Act”.

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

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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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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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LEAVE OF COURT BEFORE SUING A COMPANY UNDER LIQUIDATION

Let me quickly state that Section 417 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 is in all fours with Section 580 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020. Now Section 417 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 provides:- “…if a winding up order is made or a provisional liquidator is appointed, no action or proceedings shall be proceeded with against the company except by leave of the Court.” The above provision is very clear and unambiguous. It means clearly that if a winding up order is made or a provisional liquidator is appointed, no action or proceedings shall be proceeded with against the company undergoing liquidation. The intendment of the said provision is not to stop an aggrieved party from proceeding against the company which has been issued a winding up order or which a provisional liquidator has been appointed, but that leave of Court must be sought and obtained before commencing the action or proceedings.

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. Universal Properties v. Pinnacle Comm. Bank, NJA, Opia, Heritage, Fatogun (SC.332/2008, Friday, April 08, 2022)

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NON-REGISTRATION OF COMPANY CHARGES VOIDS IT

The effect of non-compliance with the provisions of section 94 is quite grave. Non-registration at the Companies Registry of charges created by the company, as opposed to existing charges acquired by the company, destroys the validity of the charge. Unless the prescribed particulars are delivered to the Registrar within 30 days of the creation of the charge, it will, so far as any security on the company’s assets is conferred thereby, “be void against the liquidator and any creditor of the company”. But this is “without prejudice to any contract or obligation for repayment of the money thereby secured, and when a charge becomes void under this section the money secured thereby shall immediately become payable”.

– Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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APPELLANT CASE WAS BASED ON THE POST-INCORPORATION CONTRACT

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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INCORPORATED LTD. LIABILITY COMPANY IS DISTINCT FROM HER SHAREHOLDERS/DIRECTORS

In NEW NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS LTD. V. AGBOMABINI (2013) LPELR-20741(CA) held that: “An incorporated limited liability company is always regarded as a separate and distinct entity from its shareholders and directors. The consequence of recognizing the separate personality of a company is to draw the veil of incorporation over the company. No one is entitled to go behind the veil. This corporate shell shall however be cracked in the interest of justice” Per ABIRU, J.C.A. (Pp. 40-41, Paras. F-E).

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