Does the term "person" have a specific legal definition, other than such as may be found in a normal English dictionary? If so, what is it, and can it include a company?

Especially in the context of the text of statutory instruments.

2 Answers 2


In statutory instruments and delegated legislation in the UK, the default definition of person "includes a body of persons corporate or unincorporate" (Interpretation Act 1978, Schedule 1; and see s. 23A which exempts much of the Act from applying to acts of the Scottish Parliament; but see the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 for an equivalent definition and scheme).

Sections 5 and 11 of the Interpretation Act say that that definition applies to Acts and delegated legislation unless the contrary intention appears.

5. Definitions. In any Act, unless the contrary intention appears, words and expressions listed in Schedule 1 to this Act are to be construed according to that Schedule.

11. Construction of subordinate legislation. Where an Act confers power to make subordinate legislation, expressions used in that legislation have, unless the contrary intention appears, the meaning which they bear in the Act.

As an example of finding a "contrary intention", an act prohibits the sale of tobacco to "a person under the age of 18 years." This has been interpreted to mean a "real human being" under the age of 18 (London Borough of Merton, R (on the application of) v Sinclair Collis Ltd, [2010] EWHC 3089 (Admin)).

  • 2
    +1. Examples of where "the contrary intention appears" include statues that refer to an "adult" person, a person having reached a certain age, or a "natural" person.
    – JBentley
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 13:09

Person means legal person

This includes companies as well as other artificial persons along with natural persons.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .