In a recent online discussion among Spanish speaking legal translators, someone raised the question of how to translate the Spanish term persona jurídica into English. The level of debate that arose around this simple term was astounding, inspiring this Word of the Week in Law.
The answer, of course, is as simple as legal person; and a qualified legal translator should know this. But you don’t have to take our word for it alone. Legal person is defined by Oxford’s Dictionary of Law as: “a natural person (i.e. a human being) or a juristic person.” Where “juristic person” is then defined as: “an entity, such as a corporation that is recognized as having legal personality.” Legal personality is, in turn, the ability to exercise rights and obligations.
While many translators recommended “legal capacity” as a translation for persona jurídica, we respectfully disagree. Legal personality is a prerequisite to legal capacity; therefore, they cannot be linguistic equivalents.