At common law a company before its incorporation has no capacity to contract. Consequently, nobody can contract for it as Agent nor can a pre-incorporation contract be ratified by the company after its incorporation -Transbridge Co. Ltd. v. Survey International Co. Ltd. (1986) 17 NSCC 1084; (1986) 4 NWLR (Pt. 37) 576; Edokpolo & Co. Ltd. v. Sem-EdoWire Industries Ltd. & Ors. (1984) 7 SC 119; Sparks Electrics (Nig.) Ltd. v. Ponmile (1986) 2 NWLR 579; Enahoro v.I.B.WA. Ltd. (1971) 1 NCLR 180; Kelner v. Baxter (1867) LR 2CP 174; Natal Land and Colonisation Co. v. Pauline Syndicate (1904) AC 120. The rationale for this rule was stated at page 183 of the report by Erle, C.J. in Kelner v. Baxter in these words: “………………….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 defendants personally. The cases referred to in the course of the argument fully bear out the proposition that, 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 that responsibility. When the company came afterwards into existence it was a totally new creature, having rights and obligations from that time, but no rights or obligations by reason of anything which might have been done before.” The company can, however, after its incorporation, enter into a new contract to put into effect the terms of the pre-incorporation contract – Touche v. Metropolitan Railway Warehousing Co. (1871) 6 Ch. App 671; Howard v. Patent Ivory Manufacturing Co. (1888) 38 Ch D 156.

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

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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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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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It is now trite in law that a company or corporate body not being a human being cannot act on its own and so carries out activities through human beings who are the operators or managers of the corporate body and so the manager or operators do not become personally liable for acts carried out for and on behalf of the company in the management or day to day business of the company. The follow up is that the company is an abstraction and operates through living persons and so an officer of the company takes an action in furtherance of the affairs of the company who is the principal and it is that principal that is liable for any infraction occasioned by those acts and not the official or employee. SeeN.N.S.C. v Sabana Company Ltd (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt.74) 23; Yusuf v Kupper International NV (1996) 4 NWLR (Pt.446) 17; UBN Ltd v Edet (1993) 4 NWLR (Pt.287) 288; Niger Progress Limited v North East Line Corporation (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt 107) 68.

— Tanko Muhammad, JSC. Berger v Toki Rainbow (2019) – SC.332/2009

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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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This reasoning assumes, as I understand it, that if the transaction under consideration is genuinely regarded by the parties as a sound commercial transaction negotiated at arm’s length and capable of justification on purely commercial grounds, it cannot offend against s.54 [Companies Act 1948]. This is, I think, a broader proposition than the proposition which the judge treated as having been accepted by counsel for Belmont. If A Ltd buys from B a chattel or a commodity, like a ship or merchandise, which A Ltd genuinely wants to acquire for its own purposes, and does so having no other purpose in view, the fact that B thereafter employs the proceeds of the sale in buying shares in A Ltd should not, I would suppose, be held to offend against the section; but the position may be different if A Ltd makes the purchase in order to put B in funds to buy shares in A Ltd. If A Ltd buys something from B without regard to its own commercial interests, the sole purpose of the transaction being to put B in funds to acquire shares in A Ltd, this would, in my opinion, clearly contravene the section, even if the price paid was a fair price for what is bought, and a fortiori that would be so if the sale to A Ltd was at an inflated price. The sole purpose would be to enable (ie to assist) B to pay for the shares. If A Ltd buys something from B at a fair price, which A Ltd could readily realise on a resale if it wished to do so, but the purpose, or one of the purposes, of the transaction is to put B in funds to acquire shares of A Ltd, the fact that the price was fair might not, I think, prevent the transaction from contravening the section, if it would otherwise do so, though A Ltd could very probably recover no damages in civil proceedings, for it would have suffered no damage. If the transaction is of a kind which A Ltd could in its own commercial interests legitimately enter into, and the transaction is genuinely entered into by A Ltd in its own commercial interests and not merely as a means of assisting B financially to buy shares of A Ltd, the circumstance that A Ltd enters into the transaction with B, partly with the object of putting B in funds to acquire its own shares or with the knowledge of B’s intended use of the proceeds of sale, might, I think, involve no contravention of the section, but I do not wish to express a concluded opinion on that point.

— Buckley LJ. Belmont v Williams [1980] 1 ALL ER 393

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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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