Limited Liability & Separate Legal Entity
The most important feature of a Corporate form or Company form of entity is its Limited Liability and Seperate Legal Entity concept. These concepts ensuers saftey for the investments and assets of the Owners. These concepts acts as a shield for the owners, investors and directors against third parties
Limited Liability Concept
The privilege of limited liability for business debts is one of the principal advantages of doing business under the corporate form of organisation. The company, being a separate person, is the owner of its assets and bound by its liabilities. The liability of a member as shareholder, extends to the contribution to the capital of the company up to the nominal value of the shares held and not paid by him. Members, even as a whole, are neither the owners of the company’s undertakings, nor liable for its debts. In other words, a shareholder is liable to pay the balance, if any, due on the shares held by him, when called upon to pay and nothing more, even if the liabilities of the company far exceed its assets. This means that the liability of a member is limited.
Forr example, if A holds shares of the total nominal value of 1,000 and has already paid Rs.500/- (or 50% of the value) as part payment at the time of allotment, he cannot be called upon to pay more than Rs. 500/-, the amount remaining unpaid on his shares. If he holds fully-paid shares, he has no further liability to pay even if the company is declared insolvent. In the case of a company limited by guarantee, the liability of members is limited to a specified amount of the guarantee mentioned in the memorandum.
Seperate Legal Entity Concept
A Company is an artificial person created by law. It is considered as a legal person sperate from its owners or promoters. A Company can enter into contracts, possess properties in its own name, sue and can be sued by others etc. It is called an artificial person since it is invisible, intangible, existing only in the contemplation of law. It is capable of enjoying rights and being subject to duties.
A company being a legal person and entirely distinct from its members, is capable of owning, enjoying and disposing of property in its own name. The company is the real person in which all its property is vested, and by which it is controlled, managed and disposed off.
Every cases or suits will come against the company and not against its directors or share holders, if they acted on behalf of the company genuinely.
Exceptions to the principle of limited liability
Members are severally liable in certain cases-
The number of members of a company is reduced– in the case of a public company, below seven, in the case of a private company, below two, and the company carries on business for more than six months while the number of members is so reduced, every person who is a member of the company during the time that it so carries on business after those six months and is cognisant of the fact that it is carrying on business with less than seven members or two members, as the case may be, shall be severally liable for the payment of the whole debts of the company contracted during that time, and may be severally sued therefor.
Furnishing any false information – Where a company has been got incorporated by furnishing any false or incorrect information or representation or by suppressing any material fact or information in any of the documents or declaration filed or made for incorporating such company or by any fraudulent action, the Tribunal may, on an application made to it, on being satisfied that the situation so warrants, direct that liability of the members of such company shall be unlimited.
Any business of the company has been carried on with an intent to defraud creditors of the company or any other persons or for any fraudulent purpose, the Tribunal may declare the persons who were knowingly parties to the carrying on of the business in the manner aforesaid as personally liable, without limitation of liability, for all or any of the debts/liabilities of the company.
A prospectus or Investment Invitation has been issued with intent to defraud the applicants for the securities of a company or any other person or for any fraudulent purpose, every person who was a director at the time of issue of the prospectus or has been named as a director in the prospectus or every person who has authorised the issue of prospectus or every promoter or a person referred to as an expert in the prospectus shall be personally responsible, without any limitation of liability, for all or any of the losses or damages that may have been incurred by any person who subscribed to the securities on the basis of such prospectus.
where a company fails to repay the deposit or part thereof or any interest thereon referred to in section 74 within the time specified or such further time as may be allowed by the Tribunal and it is proved that the deposits had been accepted with intent to defraud the depositors or for any fraudulent purpose, every officer of the company who was responsible for the acceptance of such deposit shall, without prejudice to other liabilities, also be personally responsible, without any limitation of liability, for all or any of the losses or damages that may have been incurred by the depositors.