Maybe companies are not people after all!

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that companies, while they may be legal persons, should not enjoy all the rights that human persons have.

It was in the context of  questioning the right to privacy of a fracking company, which had argued that a compensation agreement it  had made was a private matter and so need not be disclosed.

But the impact of the decision, while it may be  helpful for anti-frackers, is also likely to question the common assumption that companies enjoy human rights in a wide variety of fields. And this could affect not only matters of privacy and confidentiality but also judgments on free speech (think of the Nike-Kasky case).

2 replies on “Maybe companies are not people after all!”


Interested to hear your thoughts on what this means outside the USA. Many countries don’t have the same ideas of corporate personality as they do, and still others don’t have constitutions to test propositions such as the one in the fracking case.

Dwayne – From a strict legal perspective, I guess it may mean nothing outside the USA. And within the States, it will be interesting to see if it is appealed and how it is handled. But from the practical point of view of setting a precedent for challenging the unthinking way rights are assigned to companies, it may be very important worldwide.

And that is partly because I believe most countries do in fact have very similar ideas of corporate personality to those in the US, although it may be expressed through different legal vehicles. On the other hand, I doubt whether there are local constitutions that can facilitate a challenge to corporate rights being mounted in that many places.

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