The word 'person' is derived from the Latin word 'person'. The term has a long history. To begin with, it simply meant a mask. Later on , it was used to denote the part played by a man in life. After that, it was used in the sense of the man who played the part. In later Roman law, the the term become synonymous with ' caput'. A salve had an imperfect persona. Last of all, the term is used in the sense of a being who is capable of sustaining rights and duties.
Many definition of person have been given by various writers. According to the German writers, “will is the essence of a personality. A legal person is one who is capable of will”. Zitelmann writes : “Personality is the legal capacity of will. The bodiliness of man is for their personality a wholly irrelevant attribute”.
According to salmond “ a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights or duties. Any being that is so capable is a person, whether a human being or not and no being that is not so capable is a person, even though he be a man. Persons are the substances of which rights and duties are the attributes. It is only is this respect that persons possess juridical significance and this is the exclusive point of view from which personality receives legal recognition.
Person as so define are of two kinds, distinguishable as natural and legal. A natural person is human being. Legal persons are beings, legal or imaginary, who for the purpose of legal reasoning are treated in greater or less degree in the same way as human beings. ( Legal person are also termed fictitious, justice, artificial, or moral.)
The most known artificial person is company. It can contract with other persons, sue to other, other person can also Sue to a company. There are some case law which can inform us that company is a artificial being. It will be proved that an article person is also a person in the view of law.
1. A company is separate legal entity with an independent existence apart from the shareholders who compose it. Consequently, any shareholder can execute a contract between himself on the one hand and the company on the other.This is allowed by the law because once a company is formed it attains the statutes of an independent person and its personality's quit distinct from any or all of its members. Once a company is incorporated, it must be treated like any other independent person and motive s of those who promoted it are irrelevant.
Solomon VS Solomon & co Ltd. 1897. AC 622.
2. A company may, therefore, be defined as separate legal person bought into existence by registration or incorporation under the companies Act in pursuance of a agreement made by several individuals to form themselves into a company.
Life Insurance Corporation of India VS Escorts Ltd. (1986) 59 Company case 548
3. A limited Company being a juristic person, lives, runs and functions under the provisions of a statute.
Bangladesh Tyres Ltd VS Agrani Bank & others . 42 DLR 474
The legal status of lower animal
The only natural person are human beings. Beasts are not persons, either natural or legal .(It would of course be possible for a legal system to regard an animal as a person and endow it with rights and duties.) The are merely things – often the objects of legal rights and duties, but never the subjects of them. Beasts, like men, are capable of acts and possess interests. Yet their acts are neither lawful nor unlawful; they are not recognized by the law as the appropriate subject-matter either of permission or prohibition. Archaic code did not no longer be scruple, it is true, to punish with death in due course of law the beast that was guilty of homicide. “If am ox gore a man or woman that they die: the ox shall be surely stoned and his flesh shall not be eaten”.( Exodus xxi. 28. To the same effect see Plato's laws. 873)
There are , however, two cases in which beasts maybe thought to possess legal rights. In the first place, cruelty to animals is a criminal offense, and in the second place, a trust for the benefit of particular classes of animals such as opposed to one for individual animals, is valid and enforceable as a public and charitable trust; for example a provision for the establishment and maintenance of a home for stray dogs or broken-down horses(lbid., p. 557P).The legal status of a dead man:
The personality of a human being commences its existence of birth and ceases to exist at death. Dead men are no longer persons in the eye of law. They have laid down their legal personality with there lives and they are destitute of rights and liabilities. They have no rights because they have no interests.
Without conferring rights upon the dead , law recognized and take account after the death of a person of his desires and interests when alive. They are three things in respect of which the anxieties of living man extend even after their death. These are his body, his reputation and his estate.
In williams vs williams (1882) 20 Ch.D. 659, it was laid down that person cannot during his life time make will disposing of his body, e.g. giving his brain to the museum or giving any parts of his body to the medical college. However , the trend is changing today and its perfectly legal to donate once's eyes, kidneys, hands after death.
To be continue .......................................
Md. Shahnewaz Zwaki Advocate The Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division).