What is a Memorandum of Association?

6 mins read
by Angel One
Learn about the Memorandum of Association, discovering its clauses, legal intricacies, and crucial governance considerations. Find out the advantages and disadvantages to better navigate how your company is set up.

Every company, driven by the pursuit of profit and commercial viability, undergoes a formal registration process. This involves submitting a comprehensive application to the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and essential documents. Essential to this process is submitting the company’s memorandum of association.

In this article, we’ll break down what a memorandum of association is, understand its purpose and format, and discuss the pros and cons it brings to the business world.

What is MoA?

The Memorandum of Association (MoA) is a vital legal document that outlines the fundamental details for establishing a company. It includes essential information such as the company’s name, registered office address, nature of business, authorised share capital, and the names of the initial shareholders. The MoA sets the company’s objectives, powers, and limitations, defining the scope of its activities. Any changes to the MoA require approval from shareholders and regulatory authorities, depending on the jurisdiction’s rules. 

Format of Memorandum of Association

As per Section 4(6) of the Companies Act, 2013, the Memorandum of Association (MoA) follows specific formats from Table A to Table E in Schedule 1 of the Act. The choice depends on the company’s type:

  • Table A: For companies with a share capital.
  • Table B: For companies limited by guarantee without a share capital.
  • Table C: For companies limited by guarantee with a share capital.
  • Table D: For unlimited companies without a share capital.
  • Table E: For unlimited companies with a share capital.

The MoA must be numbered, printed, and structured into paragraphs, requiring the subscriber’s signatures.

Objectives in Registering MoA

The registration of the memorandum of association serves several key objectives that contribute to the effective functioning and legal standing of a company: 

  • Establishing Legal Identity

The MoA’s registration serves to legally define the company’s scope of operations, establishing it as a distinct legal entity separate from its owners or shareholders.

  • Clarifying Corporate Mission

By articulating the company’s objectives and authorised activities, the MoA ensures a clear understanding of its mission. This clarity guides the company to operate within defined boundaries in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

  • Safeguarding Shareholder Rights

The MoA safeguards the interests of shareholders by detailing their rights and obligations. It acts as a protective measure against any unauthorised activities or decisions that could potentially harm shareholder interests.

  • Facilitating Capital Infusion

With specifications on authorised share capital, the MoA provides potential investors with insights into the company’s scale and capital requirements. This transparency streamlines the process of raising capital through the issuance of shares.

  • Guiding Informed Decision-Making

Serving as a comprehensive framework, the MoA assists in decision-making by outlining the company’s powers and limitations. This guidance empowers management and directors to make well-informed decisions within the defined scope of the company’s activities. 

Clauses and contents of Memorandum of Association

How the memorandum of association is set up can differ depending on where you are and the company you’re creating. Still, most MoAs have some standard clauses that help spell out what the company is about. These clauses work together to clearly show how the company is organised and what it can do. 

Clause Description
Name Clause Specifies the official name of the company. This critical identifier must be unique, complying with existing trademarks and legal requirements.
Registered Office Clause Designates the official address for the company, serving as the primary location for communication and legal correspondence.
Object Clause Clearly outlines the primary objectives and authorised activities of the company. It defines the scope of the company’s operations, ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks.
Liability Clause Specifies the extent of the members’ liability, indicating whether shares, guarantees limit, or if it is unlimited. This clause establishes the financial responsibility of the members.
Capital Clause Details the authorised share capital, specifying the maximum amount the company can raise through issuing shares. It also outlines procedures for issuing and transferring shares.
Association Clause Expresses the intent of the subscribers to form the company and become its members, marking the foundational commitment of those involved.
Alteration Clause Outlines procedures and requirements for making changes or alterations to the Memorandum of Association (MoA). This ensures that modifications adhere to established protocols.
Winding-up Clause Defines procedures for winding up the company, specifying the steps to be taken in the event of insolvency or other reasons for dissolution. This is a critical component for legal closure.
Miscellaneous Clause Incorporates any additional provisions or information pertinent to the formation and operation of the company that may not fit within the specific categories defined by other clauses.

Advantages and Disadvantages of MoA

When it comes to defining a company’s structure and operations, the memorandum of association offers several key advantages:

  • Legal Recognition

The MoA grants the company legal status, establishing it as a distinct entity apart from its owners or shareholders.

  • Clear Objectives

By explicitly stating the company’s goals and authorised activities, the MoA ensures a defined scope of operations, promoting compliance with laws and regulations.

  • Shareholder Safeguards

The MoA protects the rights and obligations of shareholders, acting as a safeguard against unauthorised activities that could adversely affect their interests.

  • Transparency for Investors

Specifying the authorised share capital provides transparency to potential investors about the company’s size and capital needs, facilitating capital generation through share issuance.

While the MoA serves as a crucial foundation for company operations, it also comes with certain disadvantages that need consideration:

  • Restrictive Framework

The detailed specifications in the MoA can limit the company, potentially impeding its ability to explore new opportunities or enter new markets.

  • Complex Amendment Process

Making changes to the MoA requires approval from shareholders and relevant authorities, involving a complex and time-consuming process.

  • Challenges in Attracting Investment

Limited liability, while protecting members, may pose challenges in attracting investment, as potential investors may be hesitant due to the restricted liability.

  • Cost Implications

Drafting and registering the MoA can be expensive, especially when legal assistance is necessary.

  • Public Disclosure Risks

Being a public document, the MoA exposes sensitive information about the company’s objectives and operations, accessible to competitors and other stakeholders. 


To sum it up, the memorandum of association is not just a static legal requirement; it is a dynamic blueprint that influences a company’s path forward. By understanding its role in shaping the corporate landscape, businesses can navigate the complexities, ensuring that their MoA becomes a tool for resilience and sound corporate governance. 


How many clauses are typically included in the memorandum of association?

The number of clauses in the memorandum of association can vary, but commonly, it encompasses six clauses: Name, Registered Office, Object, Liability, Capital, and Association.

Is the memorandum of association distinct from the Articles of Association?

Yes, they serve different functions. The MoA outlines fundamental conditions and objectives, whereas the Articles of Association govern the internal management and administration of the company.

Is the memorandum of association accessible to the public?

Certainly, the MoA is a public document available for public inspection, providing insights into the fundamental characteristics and objectives of the company.

Who qualifies as a subscriber to the memorandum of association?

Subscribers are individuals or entities initiating the company formation and meeting legal criteria. They sign in the presence of a witness, furnishing essential details as required.

What does the memorandum of association specify regarding liability?

The MoA delineates members’ liability, which can be either limited or unlimited, contingent on the company type and provisions outlined in the MoA.

What role does the memorandum of association play in the company's framework?

The MoA, as a legal document, defines fundamental characteristics, guiding directors and shareholders, and serves as a pivotal document in the company’s registration process.