What is a Corporation

Corporations may be divided into two main classes, namely, corporations aggregate and corporations sole. We are not concerned in the present case with corporation sole. “A Corporation aggregate has been defined as a collection of individuals united into one body under a special denomination, having perpetual succession under an artificial form, and vested by the policy of the law with the capacity of acting in several respects as an individual, particularly of taking and granting property, of contracting obligations and of suing and being sued, of enjoying privileges and immunities in common, and of exercising a variety of political rights, more or less extensive, according to the design of its institution, or the powers conferred upon it, either at the time of its creation or at any subsequent period of its existence”. (Halsbury’s Laws of England, 3rd Edn. Vol. 9, page 4.)

A corporation aggregate has therefore only one capacity, namely, its corporate capacity. A corporation aggregate may be a trading corporation or a non-trading corporation. The usual examples of a trading corporation are (1) charter companies, (2) companies incorporated by special acts of parliament, (3) companies registered under the Companies Act, etc. Non-trading corporations are illustrated by (1) municipal corporations, (2) district boards, (3) benevolent institutions, (4) universities etc. An essential element in the legal conception of a corporation is that its identity is continuous, that is, that the original member of members and his or their successors are one. In law the individual corporators, or members, of which it is composed are something wholly different from the corporation itself; for a corporation is a legal persona just as much as an individual.

Thus, it has been held that a name is essential to a corporation; that a corporation aggregate can, as a general rule, only act or express its will by deed under its common seal; that at the present day in England a corporation is created by one or other of two methods, namely, by Royal Charter of incorporation from the Crown or by the authority of Parliament that is to say, by or by virtue of statute. There is authority of long standing for saying that the essence of a corporation consists in (1) lawful authority of incorporation, (2) the persons to be incorporated, (3) a name by which the persons are incorporated, (4) a place, and (5) words sufficient in law to show incorporation. No particular words are necessary for the creation of a corporation; any expression showing an intention to incorporate will be sufficient.

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