Difference between the memorandum and articles

Difference between the memorandum and articles | Memorandum of association


The Memorandum of Association is a document which sets out the constitution of a company and is therefore the foundation on which the structure of the company is built. It defines the scope of the company’s activities and its relations with the outside world.

The first step in the formation of a company is to prepare a document called the memorandum of association. In fact memorandum is one of the most essential pre-requisites for incorporating any form of company under the Companies Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Act’).

This is evidenced in Section 3 of the Act, which provides the mode of incorporation of a company and states that a company may be formed for any lawful purpose by seven or more persons, where the company to be formed is a public company; two or more persons, where the company to be formed is a private company; or one person, where the company to be formed is a One Person Company by subscribing their names or his name to a memorandum and complying with the requirements of this Act in respect of its registration.
To subscribe means to append one’s signature or mark a document as an approval or attestation of its contents.

According to Section 2(56) of the Act “memorandum” means the memorandum of association of a company as originally framed and altered, from time to time, in pursuance of any previous company law or this Act.
Section 4 of the Act specifies in clear terms the contents of this important document which is the charter of the company.

The memorandum of association of a company contains the objects of the company which it shall pursue. It not only shows the objects of formation of the company but also determines the scope of its operations beyond which its actions cannot go. “THE MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION”, as observed by Palmer, “is a document of great importance in relation to the proposed company”.

Difference between the memorandum and articles

The main points of distinction between the memorandum and articles are given below:

1. Memorandum of association is the charter of the company and defines the fundamental conditions and objects for which the company is granted incorporation. Articles of association are the rules and regulations framed to govern this internal management of the company.

2. Clauses of the memorandum cannot be easily altered. They can only be altered in accordance with the mode prescribed by the Act. In some of the cases, alteration requires the permission of the Central Government or the Court. In the case of articles of association, members have a right to alter the articles by a special resolution. Generally there is no need to obtain the permission of the Court or the Central Government for alteration of the articles.

3. Memorandum of association cannot include any clause contrary to the provisions of the Companies Act. The articles of association are subsidiary both to the Companies Act and the memorandum of association.

4. The memorandum generally defines the relation between the company and the outsiders, while the articles regulate the relationship between the company and its members and between the members inter se.

5. Acts done by a company beyond the scope of the memorandum are absolutely void and ultra vires and cannot be ratified even by unanimous vote of all the shareholders. But the acts of the directors beyond the articles can be ratified by the shareholders.



The memorandum and articles, when registered, bind the company and its members to the same extent as if they have been signed by the company and by each member to observe and be bound by all the provisions of the memorandum and of the articles. Also, all monies payable by any member to the company under the memorandum or articles shall be a debt due from him to the company (Section 10).

We shall examine the extent to which the memorandum and articles bind:

(a) the members to the company;
(b) the company to the members;
(c) the members inter se; and
(d) the company to outsiders.


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