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In law, a legal person is any
person A person ( : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pro ...
or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into
contract A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to tr ...
s, sue and be sued, own property, and so on. The reason for the term "''legal'' person" is that some legal persons are not people:
companies A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared g ...
and
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal context) and ...
s are "persons" legally speaking (they can legally do most of the things an ordinary person can do), but they are not people in a literal sense. There are therefore two kinds of legal entities: human and non-human. In law, a human person is called a ''
natural person In jurisprudence, a natural person (also physical person in some Commonwealth countries, or natural entity) is a person (in legal meaning, i.e., one who has its own legal personality) that is an individual human being, distinguished from the br ...
'' (sometimes also a ''physical person''), and a non-human person is called a ''
juridical person A juridical person is a non-human legal person that is not a single natural person but an organization recognized by law as a fictitious person such as a corporation, government agency, NGO or International (inter-governmental) Organization (suc ...
'' (sometimes also a ''juridic'', ''juristic'', ''artificial'', ''legal'', or ''fictitious person'', la, persona ficta). Juridical persons are entities such as corporations, firms (in some
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Ju ...
s), and many
government agencies A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an administratio ...
. They are treated in law as if they were persons. While natural persons acquire legal personality "naturally", simply by being born (or before that, in some jurisdictions), juridical persons must have legal personality conferred on them by some "unnatural", legal process, and it is for this reason that they are sometimes called "artificial" persons. In the most common case ( incorporating a business), legal personality is usually acquired by registration with a
government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an administratio ...
set up for the purpose. In other cases it may be by primary legislation: an example is the Charity Commission in the UK. The United Nations
Sustainable Development Goal 16 Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16 or Global Goal 16) is about "peace, justice and strong institutions." One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015, the official wording is: "Promote peaceful and ...
advocates for the provision of legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030 as part of the
2030 Agenda The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked objectives designed to serve as a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future".United Nations (2017) R ...
. As legal personality is a prerequisite to
legal capacity Legal capacity is a quality denoting either the legal aptitude of a person to have rights and liabilities (in this sense also called transaction capacity), or altogether the personhood itself in regard to an entity other than a natural person ...
(the ability of any legal person to amend – i.e. enter into, transfer, etc. – rights and
obligations An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal or moral. Obligations are constraints; they limit freedom. People who are under obligations may choose to freely act under obligations. Obligation exists when the ...
), it is a prerequisite for an
international organization An international organization or international organisation (see spelling differences), also known as an intergovernmental organization or an international institution, is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states a ...
to be able to sign
international treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually made by and between sovereign states, but can include international organizations, individuals, business entities, and other legal pers ...
in its own
name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A personal ...
. The term "legal person" can be ambiguous because it is often used as a synonym of terms that refer ''only'' to non-human legal entities, specifically in contradistinction to "natural person".


Juridical persons

Artificial personality, juridical personality, or juristic personality is the characteristic of a non-living entity regarded by law as having the status of personhood. A juridical or artificial person ( la, persona ficta; also juristic person) has a
legal name A legal name is the name that identifies a person for legal, administrative and other official purposes. A person's legal birth name generally is the name of the person that was given for the purpose of registration of the birth and which then ap ...
and has certain rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities, and liabilities in law, similar to those of a
natural person In jurisprudence, a natural person (also physical person in some Commonwealth countries, or natural entity) is a person (in legal meaning, i.e., one who has its own legal personality) that is an individual human being, distinguished from the br ...
. The concept of a juridical person is a fundamental
legal fiction A legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts, which is then used in order to help reach a decision or to apply a legal rule. The concept is used almost exclusively in common law jurisdictions, particularly in England and Wales. De ...
. It is pertinent to the
philosophy of law Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy that examines the nature of law and law's relationship to other systems of norms, especially ethics and political philosophy. It asks questions like "What is law?", "What are the criteria for legal ...
, as it is essential to laws affecting a corporation ( corporations law). Juridical personhood allows one or more natural persons (''universitas personarum'') to act as a single entity (body corporate) for legal purposes. In many
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Ju ...
s, artificial personality allows that entity to be considered under law separately from its individual members (for example in a company limited by shares, its
shareholder A shareholder (in the United States often referred to as stockholder) of a corporation is an individual or legal entity (such as another corporation, a body politic, a trust or partnership) that is registered by the corporation as the legal ow ...
s). They may sue and be sued, enter into contracts, incur
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The ...
, and own
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, r ...
. Entities with legal personality may also be subjected to certain legal obligations, such as the payment of taxes. An entity with legal personality may shield its members from
personal liability In law, liable means "responsible or answerable in law; legally obligated". Legal liability concerns both civil law and criminal law and can arise from various areas of law, such as contracts, torts, taxes, or fines given by government agenci ...
. In some
common law jurisdictions In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omniprese ...
a distinction is drawn between ''corporation aggregate'' (such as a company, which is composed of a number of members) and a ''
corporation sole A corporation sole is a legal entity consisting of a single ("sole") incorporated office, occupied by a single ("sole") natural person.
'', which is a public office of legal personality separated from the individual holding the office (these entities have separate legal personality). Historically most corporations sole were ecclesiastical in nature (for example, the office of the
Archbishop of Canterbury The archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and a principal leader of the Church of England, the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is J ...
is a corporation sole), but a number of other public offices are now formed as corporations sole. The concept of juridical personality is not absolute. "
Piercing the corporate veil Piercing the corporate veil or lifting the corporate veil is a legal decision to treat the rights or duties of a corporation as the rights or liabilities of its shareholders. Usually a corporation is treated as a separate legal person, which is s ...
" refers to looking at the individual natural persons acting as agents involved in a company action or decision; this may result in a legal decision in which the rights or duties of a corporation or
public limited company A public limited company (legally abbreviated to PLC or plc) is a type of public company under United Kingdom company law, some Commonwealth jurisdictions, and the Republic of Ireland. It is a limited liability company whose shares may be freel ...
are treated as the rights or liabilities of that corporation's members or
director Director may refer to: Literature * ''Director'' (magazine), a British magazine * ''The Director'' (novel), a 1971 novel by Henry Denker * ''The Director'' (play), a 2000 play by Nancy Hasty Music * Director (band), an Irish rock band * ''D ...
s. The concept of a juridical person is now central to
Western law Western law comprises the legal traditions of Western culture, with roots in Roman law and canon law. As Western culture shares a Graeco-Roman Classical and Renaissance cultural influence, so do its legal systems. History The rediscovery of ...
in both
common-law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipresen ...
and civil-law countries, but it is also found in virtually every other legal system.


Examples

Some examples of juridical persons include: *
Cooperative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-contro ...
s (co-ops), business organization owned and democratically operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit *
Corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal context) and ...
s are bodies corporate created by statute or charter. A
corporation sole A corporation sole is a legal entity consisting of a single ("sole") incorporated office, occupied by a single ("sole") natural person.
is a corporation constituted by a single member, in a particular capacity, and that person's successors in the same capacity, in order to give them some legal benefit or advantage, particularly that of perpetuity, which a natural person could not have had. Examples are a religious officiant in that capacity, or
The Crown The Crown is the state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, overseas territories, provinces, or states). Legally ill-defined, the term has differ ...
in the
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonwea ...
s. A corporation aggregate is a corporation constituted by more than one member. **
Municipal corporations A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including (but not necessarily limited to) cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. The term can also be used to describe municipally own ...
(municipalities) are "creatures of
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by ...
". Other organizations may be created by statute as legal persons, including European economic interest groupings (EEIGs). * Unincorporated associations, that is aggregates of two or more persons, are treated as juridical persons in some jurisdictions but not others. *
Partnership A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as business partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. The partners in a partnership may be individuals, businesses, interest-based organizations, schools, government ...
s, an aggregate of two or more persons to carry on a business in common for profit and created by agreement. Traditionally, partnerships did not have continuing legal personality, but many jurisdictions now treat them as having an independent legal personality. *
Companies A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared g ...
are corporations – the term often refers to a business association that carries on an industrial enterprise, although companies may take other forms, such as
trade union A trade union (labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers intent on "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment", ch. I such as attaining better wages and benefits ( ...
s, unlimited companies,
trusts A trust is a legal relationship in which the holder of a right gives it to another person or entity who must keep and use it solely for another's benefit. In the Anglo-American common law, the party who entrusts the right is known as the " sett ...
, and
funds Funding is the act of providing resources to finance a need, program, or project. While this is usually in the form of money, it can also take the form of effort or time from an organization or company. Generally, this word is used when a firm uses ...
.
Limited liability companies A limited liability company (LLC for short) is the US-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a ...
—be they a
private company limited by guarantee In British, Australian, Bermudian, Hong Kong and Irish company law (and previously New Zealand), a company limited by guarantee (CLG) is a type of corporation used primarily (but not exclusively) for non-profit organisations that require legal pe ...
,
private company limited by shares A private company limited by shares is a class of private limited company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, certain Commonwealth countries, and the Republic of Ireland. It has shareholders with l ...
, or
public limited company A public limited company (legally abbreviated to PLC or plc) is a type of public company under United Kingdom company law, some Commonwealth jurisdictions, and the Republic of Ireland. It is a limited liability company whose shares may be freel ...
—are entities having certain characteristics of both a corporation and a partnership. Different types have a complex variety of advantages and disadvantages.Frisch D. (2011)
Commercial Law's Complexity
. ''George Mason Law Review''.
*
Sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a political entity represented by one central government that has supreme legitimate authority over territory. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined ter ...
s are legal persons. * In the international legal system, various organizations possess legal personality. These include
intergovernmental organizations An international organization or international organisation (see spelling differences), also known as an intergovernmental organization or an international institution, is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states an ...
(the United Nations, the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation founded in the wake of World War II to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 46 member states, with a p ...
) and some other
international organization An international organization or international organisation (see spelling differences), also known as an intergovernmental organization or an international institution, is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states a ...
s (including the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta ( it, Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme, di Rodi e di Malta; ...
, a
religious order A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practic ...
). * The
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been ...
(EU) has legal personality since the
Lisbon Treaty The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). The Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed by the EU member sta ...
entered into force on 1 December 2009. That the EU has legal personality is a prerequisite for the EU to join the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, in 2014, the EU decided not to be bound by the rulings of the
European Court of Human Rights The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR), also known as the Strasbourg Court, is an international court of the Council of Europe which interprets the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging that a ...
. * Temples, in some legal systems, have separate legal personality. * The
Whanganui River The Whanganui River is a major river in the North Island of New Zealand. It is the country's third-longest river, and has special status owing to its importance to the region's Māori people. In March 2017 it became the world's second natu ...
was granted legal personality in March 2017 under
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 smaller islands. It is the sixth-largest island country ...
law because the Whanganui
Māori Māori or Maori can refer to: Relating to the Māori people * Māori people of New Zealand, or members of that group * Māori language, the language of the Māori people of New Zealand * Māori culture * Cook Islanders, the Māori people of the ...
tribe regard the river as their ancestor. * Also, in March 2017, the High Court of Uttarakhand declared the
Ganges River The Ganges ( ) (in India: Ganga ( ); in Bangladesh: Padma ( )). "The Ganges Basin, known in India as the Ganga and in Bangladesh as the Padma, is an international river to which India, Bangladesh, Nepal and China are the riparian states." is ...
a legal "person" in a move that according to one newspaper, "could help in efforts to clean the pollution-choked rivers". As of 6 April 2017, the ruling has been commented on in
India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the ...
n newspapers to be hard to enforce, with assertions that experts do not anticipate immediate benefits, that the ruling is "hardly game changing", that experts believe "any follow-up action is unlikely", and that the "judgment is deficient to the extent it acted without hearing others (in states outside
Uttarakhand Uttarakhand ( , or ; , ), also known as Uttaranchal ( ; the official name until 2007), is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the "Devbhumi" (literally 'Land of the Gods') due to its religious significance and ...
) who have stakes in the matter". Not all organizations have legal personality. For example, the board of directors of a corporation, legislature, or governmental agency typically are not legal persons in that they have no ability to exercise legal rights independent of the corporation or political body which they are a part of.


History

The concept of legal personhood for organizations of people is at least as old as
Ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
: a variety of collegial institutions enjoyed the benefit under
Roman law Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the '' Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor ...
. The doctrine has been attributed to
Pope Innocent IV Pope Innocent IV ( la, Innocentius IV; – 7 December 1254), born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 25 June 1243 to his death in 1254. Fieschi was born in Genoa and studied at the universiti ...
, who seems at least to have helped spread the idea of ''persona ficta'' as it is called in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
. In
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is t ...
, the doctrine of '' persona ficta'' allowed monasteries to have a legal existence that was apart from the monks, simplifying the difficulty in balancing the need for such groups to have infrastructure though the monks took vows of personal poverty. Another effect of this was that, as a fictional person, a monastery could not be held guilty of
delict Delict (from Latin ''dēlictum'', past participle of ''dēlinquere'' ‘to be at fault, offend’) is a term in civil and mixed law jurisdictions whose exact meaning varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but is always centered on the notion o ...
due to not having a soul, helping to protect the organization from non-
contractual obligations A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to tran ...
to surrounding communities. This effectively moved such liability to persons acting within the organization while protecting the structure itself, since persons were considered to have a soul and therefore capable of negligence and able to be
excommunicated Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to end or at least regulate the communion of a member of a congregation with other members of the religious institution who are in normal communion with each other. The purpose ...
. In the common law tradition, only a person could possess legal rights. To allow them to function, the legal personality of a corporation was established to include five legal rights—the right to a common treasury or chest (including the right to own property), the right to a corporate seal (i.e., the right to make and sign contracts), the right to sue and be sued (to enforce contracts), the right to hire agents (employees) and the right to make by-laws (self-governance). Since the 19th century, legal personhood has been further construed to make it a citizen, resident, or domiciliary of a state (usually for purposes of
personal jurisdiction Personal jurisdiction is a court's jurisdiction over the ''parties'', as determined by the facts in evidence, which bind the parties to a lawsuit, as opposed to subject-matter jurisdiction, which is jurisdiction over the ''law'' involved in the ...
). In ''Louisville, C. & C.R. Co. v. Letson'', 2 How. 497, 558, 11 L.Ed. 353 (1844), the U.S. Supreme Court held that for the purposes of the case at hand, a corporation is "capable of being treated as a citizen of he State which created it as much as a natural person." Ten years later, they reaffirmed the result of Letson, though on the somewhat different theory that "those who use the corporate name, and exercise the faculties conferred by it," should be presumed conclusively to be citizens of the corporation's State of incorporation. Marshall v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 16 How. 314, 329, 14 L.Ed. 953 (1854). These concepts have been codified by statute, as U.S. jurisdictional statutes specifically address the domicile of corporations.


American sample cases

* In ''U.S. v. The Cooper Corp.'', (1941) the court held that the United States government, as a juristic person, could sue under the
Sherman Act The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 (, ) is a United States antitrust law which prescribes the rule of free competition among those engaged in commerce. It was passed by Congress and is named for Senator John Sherman, its principal author. T ...
. Section 7 of the act granted the right to sue only to persons. The corporate defendant, which was accused of illegally conspiring and colluding to raise prices on
tire A tire (American English) or tyre (British English) is a ring-shaped component that surrounds a wheel's rim to transfer a vehicle's load from the axle through the wheel to the ground and to provide traction on the surface over which t ...
s, argued that the U.S. government didn't have power to enforce the act because the government wasn't a person. The court held that the term "person" includes the U.S. Government, and allowed the action against the collusive corporations to continue. * In ''Cook County v. U.S. ex rel Chandler'', (2003) the county was accused of violating a law which forbids "any person" from falsely obtaining research funds from the government. The county received a $5 million grant, but used it to conduct inappropriate tests on human subjects. The county argued that it could not be held liable because it was not a person. The court held that the county could be sued under the law as a legal person. * In ''Rowland v. California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council'', (1993) the court declined to extend certain rights to legal persons. The association of prisoners sought to proceed ''
in forma pauperis ''In forma pauperis'' (; IFP or i.f.p.) is a Latin legal term meaning "in the character or manner of a pauper". It refers to the ability of an indigent person to proceed in court without payment of the usual fees associated with a lawsuit or appea ...
''. The court held that the right to sue ''in forma pauperis'' existed only for natural persons, not legal persons.


Rights and responsibilities


India

Indian law defines two types of "legal person", the human beings as well as certain non-human entities which are given the same legal judicial personality as human beings. The non-human entities given the "legal person" status by the law ''"have rights and co-relative duties; they can sue and be sued, can possess and transfer property"''. Since these non-human entities are ''"voiceless"'' they are legally represented ''"through guardians and representatives"'' to claim their legal rights and to fulfill their legal duties and responsibilities. Specific non-human entities given the status of ''"legal person"'' include ''" corporate personality,
body politic The body politic is a polity—such as a city, realm, or state—considered metaphorically as a physical body. Historically, the sovereign is typically portrayed as the body's head, and the analogy may also be extended to other anatomical parts, ...
, charitable unions etc,"'' as well as trust estates,
deities A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god or goddess, or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greate ...
, temples, churches, mosques, hospitals, universities, colleges, banks, railways, municipalities, and gram panchayats (village councils), rivers, all animals and birds.Birds to holy rivers: A list of everything India considers “legal persons”
Quartz (publication) ''Quartz'' is an online news platform in English. It is focused on international business news. Quartz is privately held and was established in New York City in 2012. It is published in the United States with global business news and has specif ...
, September 2019.


Corporates and trusts

In court cases regarding corporates, the shareholders are not responsible for the company's debts but the company itself being a "legal person" is liable to repay those debts or be sued for the non-repayment of debts.


Animal kingdom

In court cases regarding animals, the animals have the status of ''"legal person"'' and humans have the
legal duty A duty (from "due" meaning "that which is owing"; fro, deu, did, past participle of ''devoir''; la, debere, debitum, whence "debt") is a commitment or expectation to perform some action in general or if certain circumstances arise. A duty may ...
to act as " loco parentis" towards animals welfare like a parent has towards the minor children. A court while deciding the ''"
Animal Welfare Board of India The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), headquartered at Ballabhgarh in Haryana state, is a statutory advisory body advising the Government of India's Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying(Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy ...
vs Nagaraja"'' case in 2014 mandated that animals are also entitled to the fundamental right to freedom enshrined in the Article 21 of
Constitution of India The Constitution of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme law of India. The document lays down the framework that demarcates fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental ...
i.e. right to life, personal liberty and the right to die with dignity (
passive euthanasia Euthanasia (from el, εὐθανασία 'good death': εὖ, ''eu'' 'well, good' + θάνατος, ''thanatos'' 'death') is the practice of intentionally ending life to eliminate pain and suffering. Different countries have different euth ...
). In another case, a court in
Uttarakhand Uttarakhand ( , or ; , ), also known as Uttaranchal ( ; the official name until 2007), is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the "Devbhumi" (literally 'Land of the Gods') due to its religious significance and ...
state mandated that animals have the same rights as humans. In another case of cow-smuggling, the
Punjab and Haryana High Court Punjab and Haryana High Court is the common High Court for the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh based in Chandigarh, India. Sanctioned strength of Judges of this High Court is 85 consisting of 64 Per ...
mandated that ''"entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic"'' species has a ''"distinct legal persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person"'' and humans are ''"loco parentis"'' while laying out the norms for animal welfare, veterinary treatment, fodder and shelter, e.g. animal drawn carriages must not have more than four humans, and load carrying animals must not be loaded beyond the specified limits and those limits must be halved when animals have to carry the load up a slope.


Religious deities

In court cases regarding religious entities, the
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god or goddess, or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greate ...
(deity or god is a supernatural being considered divine or sacred) is also a ''"legal person"'' who can engage in legal cases through ''"
trustee Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, is a synonym for anyone in a position of trust and so can refer to any individual who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility to ...
s"'' or ''" managing board in charge of the temple"''.
Supreme Court of India The Supreme Court of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme judicial authority of India and is the highest court of the Republic of India under the constitution. It is the most senior constitutional court, has the final decision in all legal matters ...
(SC), while deciding Ayodhya case of Ram Janmabhoomi, decided in 2010 that the deity
Rama Rama (; ), Ram, Raman or Ramar, also known as Ramachandra (; , ), is a major deity in Hinduism. He is the seventh and one of the most popular '' avatars'' of Vishnu. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Bein ...
in the specific temple was a "legal entity" entitled to be represented by their own lawyer appointed by the trustees acting on behalf of the deity. Similarly, in 2018 SC decided that the deity
Ayyappan Ayyappan an incarnation of dharma sastha, also called Manikandan, is a Hindu deity popular in Southern India, He is considered to be the epitome of dharma, truth, and righteousness and is often called upon to obliterate evil. Although devotion ...
is a ''"legal person"'' with ''" the right to privacy"'' in the court case regarding the
entry of women to Sabarimala Sabarimala is a temple dedicated to Shasta in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, India. Women and girls of reproductive age were traditionally not permitted to worship there, as Shasta is a celibate deity. A Kerala high court provided a legal just ...
shrine of Lord Ayyapan.


=Shebaitship

= Under the Indian law, the ''"shebaitship"'' is the property owned by the deity or idol as a "legal person". Humans appointed to act on behalf of deity are called the ''"shebait"''. A shebait acts as the guardian or custodian of deity to protect the right of deity and fulfill the legal duties of the deity. Shebait is similar to a trustee in case the deity or temple does have a legally registered trust or entity. Under the
Hindu Law Hindu law, as a historical term, refers to the code of laws applied to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in British India. Hindu law, in modern scholarship, also refers to the legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophical reflections on the na ...
property gifted or offered as rituals or donations, etc absolutely belongs to the deity and not to the shebait. Case example are ''"Profulla Chrone Requitte vs Satya Chorone Requitte, AIR 1979 SC 1682 (1686): (1979) 3 SCC 409: (1979) 3 SCR 431. (ii)"'' and ''"Shambhu Charan Shukla vs Thakur Ladli Radha Chandra Madan Gopalji Maharaj, AIR 1985 SC 905 (909): (1985) 2 SCC 524: (1985) 3 SCR 372"''.shebaitship
legalcrystal.com.


Natural entities such as rivers

India and New Zealand both recognised the legal rights of rivers in 2017. In court cases regarding natural entities, the
Uttarakhand High Court The Uttarakhand High Court is the High Court of the state of Uttarakhand in India. The building of Uttarakhand High Court was constructed by Santoni MacDonald in 1900. The Uttarakhand State was carved out from the State of Uttar Pradesh on ...
, mandated that the river
Ganges The Ganges ( ) (in India: Ganga ( ); in Bangladesh: Padma ( )). "The Ganges Basin, known in India as the Ganga and in Bangladesh as the Padma, is an international river to which India, Bangladesh, Nepal and China are the riparian states." is ...
and
Yamuna The Yamuna ( Hindustani: ), also spelt Jumna, is the second-largest tributary river of the Ganges by discharge and the longest tributary in India. Originating from the Yamunotri Glacier at a height of about on the southwestern slopes of ...
as well as all water bodies are ''"living entities"'' i.e. ''"legal person"'' and appointed three humans as trustees to protect the rights of rivers against the pollution caused by the humans, e.g. ''"pilgrims's bathing rituals"''.


New Zealand

Section 28 of the
New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (sometimes known by its acronym, NZBORA or simply BORA) is a statute of the Parliament of New Zealand part of New Zealand's uncodified constitution that sets out the rights and fundamental freedoms of an ...
provides: "... the provisions of this Bill of Rights apply, so far as practicable, for the benefit of all legal persons as well as for the benefit of all natural persons."


United States

In part based on the principle that legal persons are simply natural persons and their organizations , and in part based on the history of statutory interpretation of the word "person", the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that certain constitutional rights protect legal persons ( such as corporations and other organizations). '' Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad'' is sometimes cited for this finding because the court reporter's comments included a statement the Chief Justice made before oral arguments began, telling the attorneys during pre-trial that "the court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny any person within its jurisdiction the
equal protection The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "''nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal ...
of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does." Later opinions interpreted these pre-argument comments as part of the legal decision. As a result, because of the
First Amendment First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record, specifically the first instance of a particular achievement Arts and media Music * 1$T, American rapper, singer-songwriter, DJ, and reco ...
, Congress may not make a law restricting the free speech of a corporation or a political action group or dictating the coverage of a local newspaper, and because of the
Due Process Clause In United States constitutional law, a Due Process Clause is found in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, which prohibits arbitrary deprivation of "life, liberty, or property" by the government except as ...
, a state government may not take the property of a corporation without using due process of law and providing just compensation. These protections apply to all legal entities, not just corporations. A prominent component of relevant case law is the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions ...
decision ''
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ''Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission'', 558 U.S. 310 (2010), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding campaign finance laws and free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It wa ...
'', which ruled unconstitutional certain restrictions on corporate campaign spending during elections.http://origin.www.supremecourt.gov/docket/08-205.htm Other United States points of law include: * '' Paul v. Virginia'' ("... in which the United States Supreme Court held that a corporation is not a citizen...") * '' Netscape Communications Corp. v. Konrad'' for what it means for two entities to be separate


Popular culture

In Act II, Scene 1 of
Gilbert and Sullivan Gilbert and Sullivan was a Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the dramatist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and the composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900), who jointly created fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which ''H.M.S. Pin ...
's 1889 opera, ''
The Gondoliers ''The Gondoliers; or, The King of Barataria'' is a Savoy Opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 7 December 1889 and ran for a very successful 554 performances (at that time the ...
'', Giuseppe Palmieri (who serves, jointly with his brother Marco, as King of Barataria) requests that he and his brother be also recognized individually so that they might each receive individual portions of food as they have "two independent appetites". He is, however, turned down by the Court (made up of fellow Gondolieri) because the joint rule "... is a legal person, and legal person are solemn things."


See also

*
Corporate personhood Corporate personhood or juridical personality is the legal notion that a juridical person such as a corporation, separately from its associated human beings (like owners, managers, or employees), has at least some of the legal rights and respon ...
*
Environmental personhood Environmental personhood is a legal concept which designates certain environmental entities the status of a legal person. This assigns to these entities, the rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities and legal liability of a legal personali ...
* European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations *
Institution Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavior. All definitions of institutions generally entail that there is a level of persistence and continuity. Laws, rules, social conventions a ...
* List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 118 *
List of legal entity types by country A business entity is an entity that is formed and administered as per corporate law in order to engage in business activities, charitable work, or other activities allowable. Most often, business entities are formed to sell a product or a servi ...
*
Natural person In jurisprudence, a natural person (also physical person in some Commonwealth countries, or natural entity) is a person (in legal meaning, i.e., one who has its own legal personality) that is an individual human being, distinguished from the br ...
* Personhood *
Separate legal entity In the United States, a separate legal entity (SLE) refers to a type of legal entity with detached accountability. Any company is set up as an SLE to legally separate it from the individual or owner, such as a limited liability company or a corporat ...


References


Citations


Sources


Books

* * * * * * *


Journal articles

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Legal Personality Legal entities (category) Corporate law Financial law Business economics Business terms Legal terminology