Where to use the prefix M/s. and where not?

We all have seen this prefix in many documents and we know that it is used as courtesy prefix like Mr. and Ms. for gents and ladies. But sometimes people (mainly youngsters) would wonder about 'why this is used?'. I was also confused on this as to where it should be prefixed, until one day a Corporate Lawyer while vetting a document pointed out a mistake regarding its wrong use.

Before we go in detail, let me first brief you about this prefix ‘M/s.’.


What is M/s. & its Use?

M/s. is the short form of the word Messrs which is the plural for Mister (Mr.), it is actually an English abbreviation of the French expression "messieurs" (french people use this as courtesy title before addressing a group of man). It should be placed before an organisation's title, only if that organisation consists of a group of people or simply stating it needs more than one person before we use it.

Example:

Correct Use
Incorrect Use
For Partnership Firm / Associates   :
For Limited Company
M/s. Ra Rao & Co.
M/s. Raghuvir & Associates
M/s. Gajalaxmi Electronics System
M/s. Reliance Industries Limited
M/s. Parle Products Private Limited

One might think as to why it should not be used before a registered company's name, as a company is in all cases owned by more than or equal to two people. A Company is a legal entity and is considered as  an 'Artificial person'. And therefore is treated as singular in all cases.

Popularly used in India:

This prefix is widely used in India in various official documents, before the name of any organisation, while addressing it in written form. Mostly nobody gives due care as to its right/wrong use. It may be because this is a very small thing and people are ignorant enough to research on its correctness.

No violation of any LawWrong use of the prefix does not lead to violation of any Indian laws. I don’t know about laws in this regard in other countries as I believe this practice (wrong use) is mainly spread out in India only.

Hope this small but important use of terminology, helped to improve your understanding on use of M/s. prefix.