public corporation

Public and private corporations.
A public corporation is one created by the state for political purposes and to act as an agency in the administration of civil government, generally within a particular territory or subdivision of the state, and usually invested, for that purpose, with subordinate and local powers of legislation; such as a county, city, town, or school district. These are also sometimes called "political corporations."
See municipal corporation.
Private corporations are those founded by and composed of private individuals, for private purposes, as distinguished from governmental purposes, and having no political or governmental franchises or duties. The true distinction between public and private corporations is that the former are organized for governmental purposes, the latter not.
The term "public" has sometimes been applied to corporations of which the government owned the entire stock, as in the case of a state bank. But bearing in mind that "public" is here equivalent to "political," it will be apparent that this is a misnomer. Again the fact that the business or operations of a corporation may directly and very extensively affect the general public (as in the case of a railroad company or a bank or an insurance company) is no reason for calling it a public corporation. If organized by private persons for their own advantage,-or even if organized for the benefit of the public generally, as in the case of a free public hospital or other' charitable institution,-it is none the less a private corporation if it does not possess governmental powers or functions. The uses may in a sense be called "public," but the corporation is "private," as much so as if the franchises were vested in a single person. Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 562, 4 L.Ed. 629.
It is to be observed, however, that those corporations which serve the public or contribute to the comfort and convenience of the general public, though owned and managed by private interests, are now denominated "public-service corporations.".
Another distinction between public and private corporations is that the former are not voluntary associations (as the latter are) and that there is no contractual relation between the government and a public corporation or between the individuals who compose it. While the above are strict distinctions between "public" and "private" corporations, in common usage the term "public" corporation is frequently used to distinquish a business corporation whose shares are traded to and among the general public as opposed to a "private" (or "close" corporation) whose shares are not so traded.

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • public corporation —    Many of the well known public corporations of the post 1945 era were established to run the amenities and industries nationalised by the Attlee Government. Their general features were that the boards were ‘corporate’ (meaning that they had a… …   Glossary of UK Government and Politics

  • public corporation — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms public corporation : singular public corporation plural public corporations American a public company …   English dictionary

  • public corporation — corporation whose shares can be purchased and sold on the stock market; corporation owned and operated by the government formed to administrate certain public programs …   English contemporary dictionary

  • public corporation — public corpo ration n 1.) AmE a ↑public company 2.) BrE a business that is run by the government …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • public corporation — public corpo ration noun count AMERICAN a company whose SHARES you can buy on the STOCK EXCHANGE …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • public corporation — A municipal or political corporation. A corporation with political powers. Phillips v Baltimore, 110 Md 431, 72 A 902. A corporation created for public purposes only, connected with the administration of the government, the interests and… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • public corporation — 1. a corporation, owned and operated by a government, established for the administration of certain public programs. 2. See municipal corporation. 3. a large private corporation with many shares, which are sold to the public or traded on a stock… …   Universalium

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