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RATIONALE FOR PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT NOT BINDING AT COMMON LAW

Dictum

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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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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WHO MAY SUE FOR INJURIES DONE TO THE COMPANY

Jenkins, L.J. in Edwards Vs Halliwell (1950) 2 ALL ER 1084 @ 1066, where His Lordship held inter alia: “The rule in Foss Vs Harbottle, as I understand it, comes to no more than this. First, the proper plaintiff in an action in respect of a wrong alleged to be done to a company or association of persons is prima facie the company or the association of persons itself. Secondly, where the alleged wrong is a transaction which might be made binding on the company or association and or all its members by a simple majority of the members, no individual member of the company is allowed to maintain an action in respect of that matter for the simple reason that if a mere majority of the company or association is in favour of what has been done, then cadit quaestio. Thus, the company or association is the proper plaintiff in all actions in respect of injuries done to it. No individual will be allowed to bring actions in respect of acts done to the company which could be ratified by a simple majority of its members. Hence the rule does not apply where the act complained of was ultra vires the company, or illegal or constituted a fraud on the minority and the wrongdoers are in the majority and in control of the company.”

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THE COMPANY CEASES TO HAVE RIGHTS WHEN A RECEIVER IS APPOINTED

The company ceases to have any right to deal with the assets. It’s right thereto is suspended. The Receiver/Manager appointed by the Debenture holder is now regarded as agent of the company for the purposes of dealing with assets in the Receivership.

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

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A REGISTERED COMPANY ACTS THROUGH AGENTS

The magisterial pronouncements in these ex cathedra authorizes, with due respect, expose the poverty of the alluring submission of the appellants counsel on the stubborn point. PW1 described himself as the chairman of the board of directors of the respondent. The respondent is a duly incorporated company under the Nigerian Companies and Allied Matters Act. By the registration, it is a persona ficta, a juristic personality which can only act through an alter ego such as its agents or servants, directors, managers, see Kate Enterprise Ltd v. Daewoo (Nig.) Ltd. (supra); Interdrill (Nig.) Ltd. v. UBA Plc. (supra). To label the PW1s evidence as hearsay, as pontificated by the appellants, will be antithetical to the corporate personality of the respondent, a legal abstraction, devoid of blood, flesh, brain and other human features.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

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THERE MUST BE EVIDENCE OF RATIFICATION OF PRE-INCORPORATION CONTRACT

Before the above provisions could apply, there must be evidence of ratification by the new company of contracts made before its formation. In the case on hand, there was no such evidence. Nor was it shown who, if any body had ratified the contract between the plaintiff/appellant and the 1st defendant.

— Oguntade, JSC. Garuba v. Kwara Investment (2005) – SC.260/2000

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FRAUD LIFTS VEIL OF INCORPORATION

One of the occasions when the veil of incorporation will be lifted is when the Company is liable for fraud as in the instant case. – Galadima JSC. Alade v. Alic (2010)

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