What is a legal person?

We explain what a legal person is and its differences with a natural person. In addition, the types of legal entity and examples.

  1. What is a legal person?

A legal person or legal entity is called a legal entity that allows the existence of an individual endowed with rights and obligations , but is not a citizen, but an institution , organization or company that pursues a social purpose for or without profit.

This figure is relatively recent regarding rights. It has no direct equivalent in Roman law, because they thought societies in a slightly different way, but they did understand the existence of ” personae  vice  fingitur “, that is, institutions that carried out work similar to those of natural persons.

Later, during the Middle Ages, there was talk of ” congregatio  and  comunitas ” to refer to the voluntary associations of individuals. The first mention of a legal person itself will arise at the end of the 18th century, according to two trends: the French Revolution and the Historical School of Law.

A legal person is  born according to a legal act or act of incorporation , that is, a legal event of foundation that is recognized by the administrative bodies and authorities, which may require the subscription in public records or compliance with certain legal conditions.

These types of figures subscribe to many of the duties and rights of natural persons, except in the case of criminal offenses and of a similar nature, which cannot be attributed to the corporation but to the natural persons who, living within it, are directly responsible for the crime committed. However, it is possible to apply criminal penalties to a legal person  involved in criminal acts, although this is usually a matter of administrative law.

  1. Legal person and natural person

Legal person
Legal persons may be composed of natural persons.

Legal persons and natural persons are different at many levels , despite being both legal figures that involve the attention of certain duties and the enjoyment of certain rights.

In fact, legal persons may be composed of natural persons or other legal persons, while a natural person necessarily corresponds to a citizen .

The latter implies that a natural person does not need to demonstrate an initial capital to undertake their activity , as legal entities do, nor does it operate as a public limited company, limited liability company or collective society.

  1. Types of legal entity

Usually distinguishes between two forms of legal entity:

  • Legal persons of Public Law . Those that represent the State entities and that watch over their interests, having application within the territory of the country and for the citizens who inhabit it, divided in turn into Legal Persons of Internal Public Law (action within the country) and Persons Legal Public External Law (action outside the country).
  • Legal persons of Private Law . Those that represent private interests, regulated by specific business codes: associations, companies, cooperatives, commercial civil societies, etc. Whether these are for profit or not.
  1. Examples of legal entity

Legal person
The international company Microsoft is considered a legal entity.

Some examples of legal entity are:

  • International technology companies such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Samsung, Huawei.
  • Transnational car companies such as Honda, Ford, Chevrolet, Renault, Seat.
  • Non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, WWF International, BRAC.
  • International banks such as Deutsche Bank, Santander Río, BBVA, ICBC, HSBC.

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