What is Articles of Incorporation?

Articles of Incorporation, known in the UK as the “Memorandum of Association,” are a fundamental legal document required to establish a company. This document outlines the essential details about the company’s structure and purpose and is a key component of the incorporation process. For a UK audience, understanding the purpose and content of the Memorandum of Association is crucial for anyone looking to set up a limited company.


Key Aspects of Articles of Incorporation (Memorandum of Association):

  1. Definition:
    • The Memorandum of Association is a legal document that forms part of the constitution of a company. It specifies the company’s name, registered office, and the scope of its activities.
  2. Purpose:
    • Legal Formation: The Memorandum of Association is required to legally incorporate a company in the UK. It serves as a declaration that the subscribers wish to form a company and agree to become its members.
    • Framework: It provides the basic framework and objectives of the company, detailing its purpose and scope of operations.
  3. Contents:
    • Company Name: The official name of the company, which must comply with naming rules set by Companies House.
    • Registered Office: The address of the company’s registered office, which must be in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland).
    • Objects Clause: Historically, this clause detailed the company’s business activities and objectives. However, for most companies incorporated after 2009, this clause is no longer required due to the Companies Act 2006, which allows companies to have unrestricted objects unless specifically restricted by the articles.
    • Liability: A statement of limited liability, indicating that members’ liability is limited to the amount unpaid on their shares.
    • Capital: The share capital, including the total number of shares and their nominal value.
    • Subscribers: The names of the initial shareholders (subscribers) and the number of shares each agrees to take.
  4. Legal Requirements:
    • The Memorandum of Association must be filed with Companies House along with the Articles of Association during the company formation process.
    • It must be signed by all initial shareholders (subscribers) in the presence of a witness.
  5. Difference from Articles of Association:
    • While the Memorandum of Association deals with the formation and fundamental aspects of the company, the Articles of Association govern the internal management of the company, outlining the rules and regulations for its operation.
  6. Historical Context:
    • Before the Companies Act 2006, the Memorandum of Association included detailed objects clauses. The Act simplified the process, allowing companies more flexibility in their operations by not requiring specific objects unless they choose to include them.

Example of a Memorandum of Association:

A UK-based tech startup is being incorporated. The Memorandum of Association for “Tech Innovations Ltd” might include:

  1. Company Name: Tech Innovations Ltd
  2. Registered Office: 123 Tech Street, London, England
  3. Objects: (Not typically required post-2009, but if included) To develop and sell software solutions.
  4. Liability: The liability of the members is limited.
  5. Capital: The share capital of the company is £10,000 divided into 10,000 shares of £1 each.
  6. Subscribers:
    • John Smith (1,000 shares)
    • Jane Doe (1,000 shares)
    • Additional initial shareholders…

Each subscriber signs the document in the presence of a witness, confirming their agreement to take the specified number of shares.



The Memorandum of Association, or Articles of Incorporation, is a critical document for setting up a company in the UK. It establishes the company’s name, registered office, and the initial shareholding structure, providing the legal foundation for its formation. Understanding its contents and legal requirements is essential for anyone looking to incorporate a company, ensuring compliance with UK corporate laws and regulations.