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Cross-border Q&A – Can foreign entities without an English equivalent be a party to litigation?

November 26, 2020

Separate legal personality is bestowed upon different entities in different legal systems. This means that there are entities, which if they were governed by English law, would not have a legal personality. Examples of such entities include idols (Hindu law), particular rivers (New Zealand), and temples (Tamil Nadu). We regularly see foreign corporate entities, whose English law equivalent does not have a legal personality (e.g. partnerships), or for whom there is no direct English law equivalent (e.g. Association (Fr) / Verein (Ger)).

Parties to an action in an English court must have a legal personality. So can these foreign entities, who either have no direct equivalent or whose direct equivalent does not a legal personality at English law, be involved in English court proceedings?

Yes, English courts recognise the legal personalities created by the laws of a foreign country.

What entities might be considered to have legal personality in the future? Could Artificial Intelligence be granted a legal personality in certain jurisdictions? For insights visit our FinTech Hub, to read what our Tier 1 FinTech practice has to say about Artificial Intelligence here.