Public Corporation – created by the state as an agency in the administration of civil government, and managed by a publicly appointed board

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public corporation:

1. A corporation whose shares are traded to and among the general public. — aka publicly held corporation.

2. A corporation that is created by the state as an agency in the administration of civil government. — aka political corporation.

3. A government owned corporation that engages in activities that benefit the general public, usually while remaining financially independent.  *  Such a corporation is managed by a publicly appointed board. — aka (in sense 3) government corporation; public benefit corporation. [1]

1. 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, with interest and franchises of which are the exclusive property and domain of the government itself.  Dartmouth College v Woodward (US) 4 Wheat 518, 4 L Ed 629.

A corporation may have a double aspect according to the nature of the powers granted and exercised.  If they were granted and exercised for public purposes exclusively, they belong to the corporate body in its public, political, or municipal character.  If the grant was for purposes of private advantage and emolument, though the public may derive a common benefit therefrom, the corporation, quoad hoc, is to be regarded as  a private company.  18 Am J2d Corp § 8. [2]

1. A government corporation.

2. A municipal corporation.

3. A corporation whose stock is traded on a stock exchange, as opposed to a closely held corporation. [3]

     Excerpt from Henry H. lngersoll’s Handbook of the law of Public Corporations (1904):

     “A public corporation is a corporation created by the state for public purposes only, as an instrumentality to increase the efficiency of government, supply the public wants, and promote the public welfare. This class of corporations includes not only the municipal corporation, but also agencies of government, called ‘quasi corporations,’ whose objects are not the making of private profit nor supplying the wants of the members. [4]

Types of Public Corporations:

Municipal Corporation – a public corporation created for political purposes and endowed with political powers to be exercised for the public good in the administration of local civil government. — aka municipality.


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[1] Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Henry H. lngersoll, Handbook of the Law of Public Corporations 11 (1904).


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