What Are Articles of Association? (Overview, Definition, and Examples)

  • By: Adam Wire
  • August 14, 2023
Articles of Association
Reading Time: 4 minutes

When creating a company or other legal entity, you must get the foundational elements right from the start. One core step is assembling all the necessary documents to ensure your limited company is protected and compliant with the laws in your jurisdiction. These essential documents that must be created when forming a business include the articles of association. 

Think of the articles of association as the rulebook that outlines how your company will operate. The document covers everything from board directors‘ roles and responsibilities to shareholders’ rights and duties. Understanding and drafting it properly can make all the difference in building a successful and sustainable enterprise.

What Are Articles of Association?

Often referred to simply as “articles,” the articles of association is a legal document that sets out the rules and regulations for a company’s internal management and administration. It defines the relationship between the company, its shareholders, directors, and other stakeholders.

The articles bring together multiple documents such as the articles of incorporation, memorandum of association, and bylaws (articles of incorporation vs. bylaws is worthy of study on its own). Thus, the articles form the company’s constitution and provide the foundation for governing its corporate structure.

Why Are Articles of Association Important?

The articles define the roles, responsibilities, and rights of shareholders, directors, and officers, ensuring clarity and coherence in decision-making. They establish procedures for meetings, dividend distribution, and share transfer, promoting transparency and accountability. 

The articles of association also protect stakeholders’ interests and provide a framework for dispute resolution. By providing a solid foundation for the company’s operations and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, the articles of association instill investor confidence, foster growth, and facilitate the smooth functioning of the organisation.

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What Do Articles of Association Include?

There are several provisions typically included in the articles of association that address critical aspects of the company’s operations and governance. Some of the most common provisions are as follows:

1. Company Name and Registered Office

The articles of association begin with the company’s name and registered office address. The company name is the official title by which the business will be known and recognised in all its dealings. The name must be unique and not identical to any existing company’s name to prevent confusion and avoid legal issues. 

The registered office is the company’s official address, where legal notices, official communications, and other documents can be delivered. This provision clarifies the geographical location within the jurisdiction where the company is legally incorporated and where it conducts its primary business.

2. Share Capital and Shareholders’ Rights

The share capital section of the articles outlines the total value of the company’s authorised share capital and the number of shares it is divided into. This provision establishes the company’s financial structure and defines the maximum amount of capital the company can raise through issuing shares.

The shareholders’ rights section details the shareholders’ rights, privileges, and obligations. It typically includes the following:

  • Voting Rights: The articles specify the voting rights associated with each class of shares. Different classes of shares may have different voting powers, and some shares may carry more weight in decision-making than others.
  • Dividend Entitlement: The articles state the rights of shareholders to receive dividends. Dividends are a portion of the company’s profits distributed to shareholders as a return on their investment.
  • Preemptive Rights: These rights give existing shareholders the first opportunity to buy new shares before offering them to external parties. Preemptive rights help protect the interests of existing shareholders and maintain their proportional ownership.
  • Transfer of Shares: This section outlines the process for transferring shares and any restrictions on share transfers, if applicable. 
  • Liquidation Preference: In the case of the company’s liquidation, certain classes of shares might have a higher priority in receiving the remaining assets than others.

Shareholders’ rights are critical to safeguard their interests and determine their level of influence over company decisions.

3. Directors’ Powers and Duties

This provision outlines the directors’ powers, responsibilities, and duties, who act as the company’s fiduciaries and are responsible for its management. The section defines their authority to make decisions on behalf of the company, delegate tasks, and set strategic objectives. 

The provision may also include specific limitations on directors’ powers to ensure transparency and accountability, and specify how directors should work with the company secretary to implement board decisions. Directors must act in good faith, in the company’s best interests, and exercise reasonable care, skill, and diligence in fulfilling their roles.

4. Shareholders’ Meetings and Voting Procedures

This section outlines the guidelines for conducting shareholders’ meetings, which are essential for decision-making and communication between shareholders and the company’s management. It covers the procedures for convening and conducting various types of meetings, such as Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs). 

The provision may specify the minimum notice period for convening a meeting, the quorum required, and the voting procedures. It may also describe different voting rights, such as the right to vote in person or by proxy, and the requirements for passing resolutions.

5. Alteration of Articles and Decision-Making Process

The articles of association provide a mechanism for amending or altering the document itself. Changes to the articles often require the approval of a special resolution passed by the shareholders in a general meeting. 

A special resolution typically requires a higher threshold of votes in favor compared to an ordinary resolution. This provision helps protect the interests of shareholders and ensures that significant changes to the company’s constitution are made with due consideration and broad support.

Getting Started With OnBoard

Compounded together, the articles of association form the backbone of a company’s internal governance and serve as a crucial document in its legal framework. Complying with the articles is essential for a public and private company’s smooth functioning and ensures all stakeholders know their rights and responsibilities.

For companies seeking a smooth-functioning board meeting management software, OnBoard is the ideal solution. OnBoard excels in simplifying board meeting preparation, facilitating secure document sharing, and streamlining decision-making processes. Some of the features that make OnBoard stand out include:

  • Agenda Builder: This allows users to easily create and customise meeting agendas, ensuring that all relevant topics are covered.
  • Secure Document Collaboration: We provide a secure platform for directors to access meeting materials and collaborate in real-time, reducing the need for paper-based documentation. Write articles of incorporation and other documents faster by reviewing files together.
  • Voting and Approval: OnBoard enables digital voting and approval processes, making it easier for directors to participate in decision-making, even remotely.
  • Meeting Analytics: We offer valuable insights and analytics on meeting attendance, participation, and engagement, helping your board of directors improve their effectiveness.

With OnBoard’s user-friendly interface and robust features, companies can enhance their governance practices and create a more efficient and productive boardroom environment.

Download our free board meeting agenda template to maximise the effectiveness of your meetings.

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About The Author

Adam Wire
Adam Wire
Adam Wire is a Content Marketing Manager at OnBoard who joined the company in 2021. A Ball State University graduate, Adam worked in various content marketing roles at Angi, USA Football, and Adult & Child Health following a 12-year career in newspapers. His favorite part of the job is problem-solving and helping teammates achieve their goals. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid sports fan and foodie who also enjoys lawn and yard work and running.