While I was scanning this post by @theContractsGuy on “How to Sign a Contract,” an unfamiliar thought passed through my mind: “I wish I had written that!” Check it out.
The post on how to sign a contract reminded me of the nomenclature I learned in law school, by which a natural person is a legal entity and an artificial person (corporation) is a legal entity, but a general partnership (at some times, in some places, under some laws, for some purposes) is a group of legal entities, not a legal entity itself. A decedent’s estate is not a legal entity and cannot sue or be sued. A trust is not a legal entity: sue the trustee!
The word “individual” was not much used as a synonym for “natural person,” because you could always have an individual corporation, an individual limited liability company, and so on.
Yet in MSCD and in Brian Rogers’s post, there are “individuals” on one hand and “legal entities” on the other, which implies that individuals (natural persons) are not legal entities capable of making contracts and being parties to suits, when of course they are capable of both.
It’s not a matter of great moment but of small curiosity. Why “John Jones, an individual” in introductory clauses and signature blocks instead of “John Jones, a natural person”?
You’re probably right, but I’m comfortable sticking with “individual.” “Natural person” is annoyingly legalistic. And I don’t see how using “individual” could result in confusion.