A promoter is one who undertakes to form a company with reference to a given project and to set it going and who takes the necessary steps to accomplish that purpose. Explain and illustrate.

Topic: A promoter is one who undertakes to form a company with reference to a given project and to set it going and who takes the necessary steps to accomplish that purpose. Explain and illustrate.

The term promoter is not defined in the act. Promoter is a word which is used to describe the person who initially plans the formation of a company and bring it into existence.


Company formation, promoters and pre-incorporation contracts

Determining who is a promoter: An individual who takes the essential steps to pattern a business is called a ‘promoter’. In Whaley Bridge Calico Printing Co v Green,[1] Bowen J clarified that: ‘the period promoter is a period not of regulation, but of enterprise, helpfully summing up in a lone phrase several enterprise procedures well renowned to the financial world by which a business is usually conveyed into existence’. The advancement method usually engages the next activities: Registering the business with Companies House; Entering into pre-incorporation contracts; In the case of public businesses, handing out a prospectus; Appointing Directors and finding shareholders desiring to invest in the new company.

Although the Companies Act 1985 does not delineate the time span promoter, the adjudicators have, on functions, surrounded investigates for ascertaining if a person’s pursuits link to the endorsement of a company. The classic assertion in this view is made by Cockburn CJ in Twycross v Grant.[2] The explanation has been left as large as probable in rank to stop people taking steps to avert plunging in a more closely surrounded proposition so as to avert the responsibilities bolstered by promoters. The broadness of the explanation is a legacy of some nineteenth-century instances including fraudulent plans being perpetrated in resistance to investors. The adjudicators replied by keeping that promoters were ‘fiduciaries’ by analogy with trustees and hence subject to a assortment of responsibilities focused at assuring high yardstick of behavior.


The fiduciary position of promoters: It has prolonged been answered that promoters are fiduciaries. ‘They stand, in my opinion, undoubtedly in a fiduciary position. They have in their hands the innovation and moulding of the company…’ (Erlanger v New Sombrero Phospate Co[3]; per Lord Cairns LC) The term ‘fiduciary’ is best described by reference to the individual responsibilities a fiduciary owes to his or her principal. Fiduciary responsibilities are responsibilities owed to a principal to conduct with ‘loyalty and good faith in dealings which affect that person’ (Penner, 2006). This duty signifies more than just acting openly and fairly. Fiduciary must conduct solely in the spare-time activities of the principal and must not sanction their have self-interests to dictate their behaviour in any way that might disagree with the principal’s best interests.

Duties and liabilities: The core obligation of a promoter is that of loyalty and nice faith. Given the deeds of promoters within fetching a corporate into presence, which often embroil acquiring premises for the yet unformed corporation, the core obligation is translated into a prohibition against making secret profits from such transactions. The tensions of the law within this respect is organised towards addressing the complication of promoters marketing premises towards the corporate within which they possess a personal interest and from which they earn a profit.

Promoters are consequently required towards earn full disclosure of any such profit towards an independent Board of Directors once the corporate arrives into existence. Failure towards earn such disclosure enables the corporate towards fetch an affair for rescission (Erlanger v New Sombrero Phospate Co)[4]. In Salomon v Salomon & Co Ltd the House of Lords took the look that whether the Board was not independent, disclosure of everybody substance facts should be made towards the original shareholders. But within Gluckstein v Barnes[5] – the HL cultured the obligation further via retention that disclosure towards the original shareholders shall not be sufficient whether they are not actually independent and the scheme as a complete is styled towards defraud the investing public. Where full disclosure is not made via the promoters the contract is voidable at the company’s choice (Erlanger v New Sombrero Phospate Co).[6] However, the right towards rescind shall be forgotten where: the corporate affirms the contract (Re Cape Breton Co); the corporate delays within exerting its rights towards rescind the contract. For rescission towards be available it ought be possible towards reestablish, at lowest firmly, the parties towards their original grading unless, due towards the mistake of the promoter, this opportunity has been forgotten (Lagunas Nitrate Co v Lagunas Syndicate).[7] Finally, it should be signed that whereas the contract has been affirmed, the corporate can nevertheless sue the promoter towards allowing for the secret profit.

Promoter’s remuneration:

For any bond a promoter has no right to get any remuneration for the services rendered by him in endorsing the company.  In rehearse; even so, he takes remuneration for his work. The typical techniques of taking remuneration are as follows: (1) marketing to the financial gathering at a profit  some real estate pay for by the promoter before he became one, (2) taking a assignment on the allocations marketed, (3) taking a give of allocations of the financial gathering, (4)lump summation from the financial gathering

Pre-incorporation contracts: Obviously a business does not come into existence until the promoters have finished the reservation condition and the Registrar of Companies distributes a certificate of incorporation. Prior to this time a business cannot be signed higher by contracts entered into in its call or on its behalf. In practice, however, promoters will deficiency to contract with third parties for such item as a hire of premises, finance supplies and overpass to utilities so that once the certificate of incorporation is liberated the business can appeal in trading.

The complication that emerges within relation towards pre-incorporation contracts is whether promoters can skirt being personally liable onto such contracts notwithstanding that the corporate did not exist at the moment such contracts were completed onto its behalf. Quite clearly, an official (promoter) cannot attach a non-existent principal (the company) towards contracts. The ordinary law addressed the complication via applying definite beliefs of contract and authority, but partial reform was executed via section 9(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, already re-enacted within s. 51 of the Companies Act 2006.

The common law position: It is a basic standard of the regulation of agreement that a party should be in reality in alignment for an affirmation (offer and acceptance) to crystallise into a binding contract. Given that at the time of pre-incorporation agreement the business does not live, it becomes a outsider to the agreement one time it arrives into existence: the privity doctrine functions to avert privileges and liabilities being talked or enforced on the business (Kelner v Baxter).[8] The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, which permits enforcement of agreements by third parties if the agreement expressly so presents or a period of the agreement talks a advantage on the third party, does not request to pre-incorporation contracts. The regulation of bureau takes the outlook that a individual will not be an agency of a non-existent primary and so a business will not come by privileges or obligations under a pre-incorporation contract. The widespread regulation place is showed by the conclusion in Kelner v Baxter. It was held in Kelner v Baxter[9] that as the business did not live at the time of the affirmation it would be wholly inoperative except it was binding on the promoters in person and a outsider will not by later ratification ease them from that responsibility.

On the other hand, a promoter can escape bodily obligation if the business, later incorporation, and the third party substitute the original pre-incorporation contract with a novel contract on interchangeable terms. Novation, as this is summoned, may also be suggested by the conduct of the parties such as where the terms of the original harmony are modified (Re Patent Ivory Manufacturing Co, Howard v Patent Ivory Manufacturing Co).[10] But novation is futile if the business supports the contract due to the wrongly trust that it is signed higher by it (Re Northumberland Avenue Hotel Co Ltd). A promoter can also escape bodily obligation on a contract where he pointers the harmony merely to assure the signature of the business because in so doing he has not held himself out as either staff or principal. The signature and the contractual record will be a achieve nullity because the business was not in existence (Newborne v Sensolid (Great Britain) Ltd).[11] The regular law placement has now been corrected as a issue of the UK’s implementation of the First European Community Directive on Company Law by s. 36C of the CA 1985 (now s. 51, CA 2006). The furnishes seeks to shield the third party by taking in promoters confidentially liable after the business, later incorporation, fails to enter into a novel contract on interchangeable terms. The CA 2006 keeps this rule.

Companies Act 2006, s. 51: Section 51 provides that a contract which purports to be prepared via or on behalf of a corporation at a time as shortly as the corporation has not been shaped has impression, subject to any accordance to the negatively, as one prepared with the person purporting to behave for the corporation or as officer for it, and he or she is privately liable on the contract accordingly.

The meaning and scope of this furnishes was examined by the Court of Appeal in Phonogram Ltd v Lane. Lord Denning MR took the remark ‘subject to any harmony to the contrary’ to midpoint that for a promoter to escape bodily obligation the contract must explicitly deliver for his exclusion. The court also held that it is not necessary for the putative business to be in the process of innovation at the time the contract was entered into. In Braymist Ltd v Wise Finance Co Ltd (2002)[12] an subject in the past the CA was whether a person acting as staff of an unformed business could inflict a pre-incorporation contract below s. 51. It was held that even so the terms of the first Directive referred simply to obligation and not to enforcement, it did not pursue that s 51 was similarly limited in scope so as to prevent enforcement of contracts organised by separate population on behalf of unformed companies. The words in the phase ‘and he is confidentially liable on the contract accordingly’ did not operate to negative this outlook, but somewhat the remark merely serves to emphasise the abolition of the regular law divergence between staff any person who incurred bodily obligation on pre-incorporation contracts and those any person who did not. The phase is consequently double-edged so that a party any person who is confidentially liable for the contract is also able to inflict it. In summary, the intention of s. 51 is to shield third parties any person who contracted in the trust that they were selling with reserved businesses by taking in pre-incorporation contracts legally enforceable as bodily contracts with promoters unless the bodily obligation of the latter has been unequivocally excluded.

Freedom of establishment: Companies are no longer static entities whose procedures are confined to the jurisdiction in which they incorporated. In furtherance of the worldwide market aim the EC Treaty conceives a widespread market with free action of items, individuals, services and capital. EC Treaty, items 2, 43 and 48 request to talk a right of establishment on natural individuals and businesses alike to convey on enterprise in any constituent state. The basic obligation is that businesses should have been formed as asserted by the regulation of a constituent state and that they have their listed agency, or centre of management or primary location of enterprise inside the European Community (EC Treaty, art 48). A constituent state which hunts for to impede the right of a business listed in another constituent state from bearing on enterprise in its jurisdiction will be held to be portraying in break of its EC Treaty obligations. In Centros Ltd v Erhversus-og Selkabssyrelsen (2002)[13]- the ECJ held that Denmark was in break of EU regulation in denying to permit Centros Ltd, a personal business listed in England, to set up a agency in Denmark, even though Denmark was in detail its prime operational establishment (Kamer van Koophandel en Fabrieken voor Amsterdam v Inspire Art Ltd (2003))[14]. Further, the preliminary 14th EC Company Law Harmonisation Directive aspires to help business migration. A business will be adept to proceed its listed agency between constituent states without having to disturb its procedures by reincorporating in the owner jurisdiction.

Conclusion: Promoters are fiduciaries, whereas promoters fail towards divulge a profit towards an independent Board of Directors the corporate can require them towards allowing for it (i.e. towards disgorge the profit). Section 51 of the CA 2006 is styled towards protect third parties contracting with promoters via making the promoters personally liable within pre-incorporation contracts.


1.       Commercial law and Industrial law by Arun Kumar Sen and Jitendra Kumar Mitra

2.       Retrieve from Google

3.       Retrieve from Wikipedia

4.       Company Law, John Lowry and Alan Dignam, 5th edition, Oxford University Press, 2009

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[1] (1879) 5 QBD 109

[2] (1877) 2 CPD 469, CA

[3] (1878) 3 App Cas 1218, HL

[4] (1878) 3 App Cas 1218, HL

[5] [1900] AC 240

[6] (1878) 3 App Cas 1218, HL

[7] [1899] 2 Ch 392, CA

[8] (1866) LR 2 CP 174

[9] (1866) LR 2 CP 174

[10] (1888) 38 Ch D 156

[11] [1954] 1 QB 45, CA

[12] [2002] 1 BCLC 415, CA

[13] [2000] 2 WLR 1048, ECJ

[14] [2003] (Case C-167/01), ECJ