Sociology Index

Juristic Person

Similar to those of a natural person, a juristic person, juridical person, fictitious person, artificial person, legal entity and body corporate has a legal name and has certain rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities, and liabilities under law. A juristic person is a bearer of rights and duties that is not a natural person but which is given legal personality by the law. Juristic personality, juridical personality, artificial personality and legal entity is the characteristic of a non-living entity regarded by law to have the status of personhood. The term 'juristic person' includes a firm, corporation, union, association, or other organization capable of suing, and being sued, in a court of law.

A juristic person can never be an employee. Juristic persons are legal persons. The concept 'juristic person' is now central in both common law and civil law countries and in virtually every legal system. Gods, corporations, rivers, and animals, have all been treated as juristic persons by courts. The concept of juristic personality is not absolute. Juristic persons do not have all of the same rights that natural persons have, like freedom of speech.

Juristic persons are entities other than human beings on which the law bestows legal subjectivity. This does not mean that they assume the guise of natural persons, but that the law for the sake of economic or social expediency recognises a thing or community or group of persons as having legal personality and therefore the capacity to be the bearer of rights and duties and the ability to participate in the life of the law in its own name. They are called juristic persons because it is the law that accords them the status, in certain respects at least, of persons: they are artificial persons created by the law. Juristic Person is the legal concept that corporations are liable to the same laws as 'natural persons.' But, treating corporations as individuals or juristic persons raises practical difficulties for legal enforcement and punishment.

A juristic person, as opposed to a “natural person,” is an entity whom the law vests with a personality. In Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee vs Som Nath Dass and Others (2000), the Supreme Court said: “The very words Juristic Person connote recognition of an entity to be in law a person which otherwise it is not. In other words, it is not an individual natural person but an artificially created person which is to be recognised to be in law as such.”

The law of persons today: at the margins of jurisprudence
Edward Mussawir, Connal Parsley, Law and Humanities, Volume 11, 2017 - Issue 1.
Abstract: Recent decisions have given legal identity to rivers such as Te Awa Tupua in New Zealand, and the Ganges and Yamuna in India, effectively treating them as having all the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Christian metaphysicalization of the juridical person as a moral entity not only adds to but also transforms and displaces that law as a juristic enterprise. 

In State Trading Corporation of India Ltd. Vs. the Commercial Tax Officer, the Supreme Court of India held that though a company is a legal person/juristic person or a person in the eye of the law, it is not a citizen of India. So, it cannot enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and the provisions of Citizenship Act. The citizenship as determined by part II of the Constitution of India is also applicable only to a natural person, not to a juristic person. Apart from the Constitution, the Citizenship Act also excludes juristic person (like a corporation) from its purview. Under public and private international law, corporations can have a nationality. The Court didn’t feel any difficulty in accepting the nationality claim of a juristic person because nationality is different from citizenship. The distinction between nationality and citizenship is that all citizens are nationals, but all nationals are not citizens.

S.G.P.C. Amritsar versus Shri Som Nath and others, held Guru Granth Sahib a Juristic Person. Judgment of the Supreme Court of India. Objection was raised by respondents before the High Court, contending that the entry in the revenue records in the name of Guru Granth Sahib was void as Guru Granth Sahib was not a juristic person. The case of the respondents was that the Guru Granth Sahib was only a sacred book of the Sikhs and it would not fall within the scope of juristic person. On the other hand, with vehemence and force, learned Counsel for the appellant, SGPC submitted that Guru Granth Sahib is a juristic person and hence it can hold property, can sue and be sued.

The Theory of the State as a Sovereign Juristic Person - Kenneth C. Cole
The American Political Science Review, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Feb., 1948), pp. 16-31

The Nationality of a Juristic Person - E. Hilton Young
Harvard Law Review, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Nov., 1908), pp. 1-26.