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  • The word Person was derived from the Latin word persona which means a mask worn by actors playing different roles in a drama.
  • Until 6th Century, the word was used to denote the part played by a man in life. Thereafter, it began to be used in the sense of a living being capable of having rights and duties.
  • In Law, person does not merely represent human beings but also Gods, Angels, Idols, Corporations etc.
  • Further, there may be human beings such as slaves etc. who are not treated as 'persons' in law because they are not capable of having rights and duties.
  • In Hindu Law, a Sanyasi who ceases to have any property rights and his entire estate is passed on to his hiers and successors and his legal personality is completely lost.
  • A man considered according to the rank he holds in society, with all the right to which the place he holds entitles him, and the duties which it imposes. People v. R. Co., 134 N.Y. 506, 31 N.E. 873.
  • The word in its natural and usual signification includes women as well as men. Commonwealth v. Welosky, 276 Mass. 398, 177 N.E. 656
  • Term may include
    • artificial beings, as corporations, 1 Bla.Com. 123; 4 Bingh. 669; People v. Com'rs of Taxes, 23 N.Y. 242
    • quasi-corporations, Sedgw. Stat. & Const. L. 372; L. R. 5 App. Cas. 857;
    • territorial corporations, Seymour v. School District, 53 Conn. 507, 3 A. 552;
    • and foreign corporations, People v. McLean, 80 N.Y. 259;
    • under statutes, forbidding the taking of property without due process of law and giving to all persons the equal protection of the laws, Smyth v. Ames, 18 S.Ct. 418, 169 U.S. 466, 42 L.Ed. 819; Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co. v. Ellis, 17 S.Ct. 255, 165 U.S. 150, 41 L.Ed. 666;
    • concerning claims arising from Indian depredations, U. S. v. Transp. Co., 17 S.Ct. 206, 164 U.S. 686, 41 L.Ed. 599;
    • relating to taxation and the revenue laws, People v. Mc- Lean, 80 N.Y. 254;
    • to attachments, Bray v. Wallingford, 20 Conn. 416;
    • usurious contracts, Philadelphia Loan Co. v. Towner, 13 Conn. 249;
    • applying to limitation of actions, Olcott v. R. Co., 20 N.Y. 210, 75 Am.Dec. 393; North Mo. R. Co. v. Akers, 4 Kan. 453, 96 Am.Dec. 183;
    • and concerning the admissibility as a witness of a party in his own behalf when the opposite party is a living person, La Farge v. Ins. Co., 22 N.Y. 352. A. corporation is also a person under a penal statute; U. S. v. Amedy, 11 Wheat. 392, 6 L.Ed. 502. Corporations are "persons" as that word is used in the first clause of the XIVth Amendment; Covington & L. Turnp. Co. v. Sandford, 17 S.Ct. 198, 164 U.S. 578, 41 L.Ed. 560; Smyth v. Ames, 18 S.Ct. 418, 169 U.S. 466, 42 L.Ed. 819; People v. Fire Ass'n, 92 N.Y. 311, 44 Am.Rep. 380; U. S. v. Supply Co., 30 S.Ct. 15, 215 U.S. 50, 54 L.Ed. 87;
    • contra, Central P. R. Co. v. Board, 60 Cal. 35. But a corporation of another state is not a "person" within the jurisdiction of the state until it has complied with the conditions of admission to do business in the state, Fire Ass'n of Phila. v. New York, 7 S.Ct. 108, 119 U.S. 110, 30 L.Ed. 342;
    • and a statutory requirement of such conditions is not in conflict with the XIVth Amendment; Pembina Consol. S. M. & M. Co. v. Pennsylvania, 8 S.Ct. 737, 125 U.S. 181, 189, 31 L.Ed. 650.
  • It may include partnerships. In re Julian, D. C.Pa., 22 F.Supp. 97, 99. Also firms. State ex rel. Joseph R. Peebles Sons Co. v. State Board of Pharmacy, 127 Ohio St. 513, 189 N.E. 447, 448.
  • A child en ventre sa mere is not a person. Dietrich v. Northampton, 138 Mass. 14, 52 Am.Rep. 242; but an infant is so considered; Madden v. Springfield, 131 Mass. 441.
  • In the United States bankrupty act of 1898, it is provided that the word "persons" shall include corporations, except where otherwise specified, and officers, partnerships, and women, and, when used with reference to the commission of acts which are therein forbidden, shall include persons who are participants in the forbidden acts, and the agents, officers, and members of the board of directors or trustees, or their controlling bodies, of corporations. 11 U.S.C.A. § 1.
  • Persons are the subject of rights and duties; and, as a subject of a right, the person is the object of the correlative duty, and conversely. The subject of a right has been called by Professor Holland, the person of inherence ; the subject of a duty, the person of incidence. "Entitled" and "bound" are the terms in common use in English and for most purposes they are adequate. Every full citizen is a person; other human beings, namely, subjects who are not citizens, may be persons. But not every human being is necessarily a person, for a person is capable of rights and duties, and there may well be human beings having no legal rights, as was the case with slaves in English law.
  • A person is such, not because he is human, but because rights and duties are ascribed to him. The person is the legal subject or substance of which the rights and duties are attributes. An individual human being considered as having such attributes is what lawyers call a natural person. Pollock, First Book of Jurispr. 110. Gray, Nature and Sources of Law, ch. IL

Definitions of Person

  • Zitelmana, a German writer considers that a Will is the essence of legal personality. He said that, 'personality is the legal capacity of will, the bodiliness of men is for their personality a wholly irrelevant attribute'.
  • Sir John Salmond defines person as, 'any being to whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties. Any being that is so capable, is a person whether human being or not and nothing that is not so capable is a person even though he be a man.'
  • Patson said legal personality is a medium through which some units are created in whom rights can be vested.

Types of Persons

In juristic terms, persons are of two types:

  1. Natural Persons: Capable of rights and duties
  2. Legal Persons: Who may be real (natural) or imaginary (artificial), in whom law vests rights and imposes duties and thus attributes personality by way of fiction

Artificial Persons

  • Artificial persons include a collection or succession of natural persons forming a corporation; a collection of property to which the law attributes the capacity of having rights and duties. The latter class of artificial persons is recognized only to a limited extent in our law. Examples are the estate of a bankrupt or deceased person. Hogan v. Greenfield, 58 Wyo. 13, 122 P.2d 850, 853
  • It has been held that when the word person is used in a legislative act, natural persons will be intended unless something appear in the context to show that it applies to artificial persons, Blair v. Worley, 1 Scam., Ill., 178; Appeal of Fox, 112 Pa. 337 ; 4 A. 149 ; but as a rule corporations will be considered persons within the statutes unless the intention of the legislature is manifestly to exclude them. Stribbling v. Bank, 5 Rand., Va., 132.
  • A county is a person in a legal sense, Lancaster Co. v. Trimble, 34 Neb. 752, 52 N.W. 711; but a sovereign is not; In re Fox, 52 N.Y. 535, 11 Am.Rep. 751; U. S. v. Fox, 94 U.S. 315, 24 L.Ed. 192, but contra within the meaning of a statute, providing a penalty for 'the fraudulent alteration of a public record with intent that any "person" be defrauded, Martin v. State, 24 Tex. 61; and within the meaning of a covenant for quiet and peaceful possession against all and every person or persons; Giddings v. Holter, 19 Mont. 263, 48 P. 8. An Indian is a person, U. S. v. Crook, 5 Dill. 459, Fed.Cas.No.14,891; and a slave was so considered, in so far, as to be capable of committing a riot . in conjunction with white men, State v. Thackam, 1 Bay, S.C., 358. The estate of a decedent is a person, Billings v. State, 107 Ind. 54, 6 N.E. 914, 7 N.E. 763, 57 Am. Rep. 77; and where the statute makes the owner of a dog liable for injuries to any person, it includes the property of such person, Brewer v. Crosby, 11 Gray, Mass., 29; but where the statute provided damages for the bite of a dog which had previously bitten a person, it was held insufficient to show that the dog had previously bitten a goat, [1896] 2 Q.B. 109; a dog will not be included in the word in an act which authorizes a person to kill dogs running at large, Heisrodt v. Hackett, 34 Mich. 283, 22 Am.Rep. 529.
  • Where the statute prohibited any person from pursuing his usual vocation on the Lord's Day, it was held to apply to a judge holding court. Bass v. Irvin, 49 Ga. 436.

Legal Status

  • Of Unborn Child
  • Of Dead Man
  • Of Animals
  • Of Idol and Mosque
  • Double capacity distinguished by Double personality
  • Nature of Corporate Personality
  • Corporate Aggregate
  • Lifting the Corporate Veil
  • Corporation Sole
  • Position of Corporate Personality in various countries
  • Advantages of Incorporation
  • Creation and Extinction of Corporations
  • Liability of Corporations
  • Criminal Liability
  • Unincorporated Associations

Theories of Corporate Personality

  • Fiction Theory
  • Realist Theory
  • Bracket Theory
  • Concession Theory
  • Purpose Theory

Related Acts and Legislation

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Laws

  • Consumer - Complaint by Trust is not maintainable as Trust is not a person and therefore not a consumer. 2017 (2) APEX COURT J 001 (S.C.)

Related Topics