A COMPANY, abbreviated CO., is a legal entity made up of an association of people, be they natural , legal , or a mixture of both, for carrying on a commercial or industrial enterprise. Company members share a common purpose and unite in order to focus their various talents and organize their collectively available skills or resources to achieve specific, declared goals . Companies take various forms such as:
* Voluntary associations which may include nonprofit organization * A group of soldiers * Business entities with an aim of gaining a profit * Financial entities and banks
A company or association of persons can be created at law as legal person so that the company in itself can accept limited liability for civil responsibility and taxation incurred as members perform (or fail) to discharge their duty within the publicly declared _"birth certificate" _ or published policy .
Because companies are legal persons, they also may associate and register themselves as companies – often known as a corporate group . When the company closes it may need a _"death certificate" _ to avoid further legal obligations.
* 1 Meanings and definitions
* 1.1 Etymology * 1.2 United Kingdom * 1.3 United States
* 2 Types * 3 See also * 4 References * 5 Further reading
MEANINGS AND DEFINITIONS
A company can be defined as an "artificial person", invisible, intangible, created by or under law, with a discrete legal personality , perpetual succession , and a common seal . It is not affected by the death, insanity, or insolvency of an individual member.
The English word _company_ has its origins in the Old French military term _compaignie_ (first recorded in 1150), meaning a "body of soldiers", and originally from the Late Latin word _companio_ "companion, one who eats bread with you", first attested in the _Lex Salica _ as a calque of the Germanic expression *_gahlaibo_ (literally, "with bread"), related to Old High German _galeipo_ "companion" and Gothic _gahlaiba_ "messmate". By 1303, the word referred to trade guilds . Usage of _company_ to mean "business association" was first recorded in 1553, and the abbreviation "co." dates from 1769.
In English law and in legal jurisdictions based upon it, a company is a body corporate or corporation company registered under the Companies Acts or similar legislation. Common forms include:
* Private companies limited by guarantee * Companies without share capital (often non-profit entities) * Private companies limited by shares - the most common form of company * Public limited companies - companies, usually large, which are permitted to (but do not have to) offer their shares to the public, for example on a stock exchange
In the United Kingdom, a partnership is not legally a company, but may sometimes be referred to informally as a company. It may be referred to as a firm .
In the United States , a company may be a "corporation , partnership , association, joint-stock company , trust , fund , or organized group of persons , whether incorporated or not, and (in an official capacity) any receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, or similar official, or liquidating agent , for any of the foregoing". In the US, a company is not necessarily a corporation.
For a country-by-country listing, see types of business entity .
* A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE . Commonly used where companies are formed for non-commercial purposes, such as clubs or charities. The members guarantee the payment of certain (usually nominal) amounts if the company goes into insolvent liquidation , but otherwise they have no economic rights in relation to the company. This type of company is common in England . A company limited by guarantee may be with or without having share capital .
* A COMPANY LIMITED BY SHARES . The most common form of company used for business ventures. Specifically, a limited company is a "company in which the liability of each shareholder is limited to the amount individually invested" with corporations being "the most common example of a limited company." This type of company is common in England and many English-speaking countries. A company limited by shares may be a
* publicly traded company or a * privately held company .
* A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE WITH A SHARE CAPITAL. A hybrid entity, usually used where the company is formed for non-commercial purposes, but the activities of the company are partly funded by investors who expect a return. This type of company may no longer be formed in the UK, although provisions still exist in law for them to exist. * A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY . "A company—statutorily authorized in certain states—that is characterized by limited liability, management by members or managers, and limitations on ownership transfer", i.e., L.L.C. LLC structure has been called "hybrid" in that it "combines the characteristics of a corporation and of a partnership or sole proprietorship". Like a corporation, it has limited liability for members of the company, and like a partnership it has "flow-through taxation to the members" and must be "dissolved upon the death or bankruptcy of a member". * AN UNLIMITED COMPANY WITH OR WITHOUT A SHARE CAPITAL. A hybrid entity, a company where the liability of members or shareholders for the debts (if any) of the company are not limited. In this case doctrine of veil of incorporation does not apply.
_Less common types of companies are:_
* COMPANIES FORMED BY LETTERS PATENT. Most corporations by letters patent are _corporations sole _ and not companies as the term is commonly understood today. * CHARTER CORPORATIONS . Before the passing of modern companies legislation, these were the only types of companies. Now they are relatively rare, except for very old companies that still survive (of which there are still many, particularly many British banks), or modern societies that fulfill a quasi regulatory function (for example, the Bank of England is a corporation formed by a modern charter). * STATUT