Useful Notes on the Legal Personality of State

The State is a legal person in international law. The recognition is one of the modes which confer international personality on a State, but recognition is a matter of fact and so long as a political community possesses in fact the requisites of statehood, formal recognition is a matter of course. The United Nations has legal personality.

The law of England, however, does not recognise the State as a corporation or a legal person. Salmond suggests that the existence of monarchical Government in England has rendered superfluous the attribution of legal personality to the State.

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The King, besides being a natural person, is a corporation sole in which character he holds all the powers, and the prerogatives of the Government. Public property in the eye of law belongs to the King. Whatever is done by the State is done by the King.

All the rights and duties that belong to the State are vested in the King. The only legal person is the body corporate con­stituted by the series of persons by whom the Crown is worn. Hence in England no independent legal personality is assigned to the State.

Holland does not share the above view as, according to him, the State as a great juristic person enjoys many quasi-rights against indi­viduals and is liable to many quasi-duties in their favour. The State, apart from the enjoyment of the ’eminent domain’ over all the property of its subjects, is a great landed proprietor.

Jethrow Brown very aptly observes that the personality of the Slate has not been recognised either by the poverty of our ideas or by the conservatism of our temperament and that the legal recognition of the Suite as a collective real person is simply a matter of time.