The term body corporate refers to a person, association or group of persons legally incorporated in a corporation. A body corporate has perpetual succession as well as the power to act, hold property, enter into legal contracts and sue and be sued in their own name, just as a natural person can.
The types of entities falling into these categories are broad, and include:
- trading and non-trading entities
- profit and non-profit making entities
- government-controlled entities
- other entities with less or no government control or involvement.
Included in the definition of body corporate are entities created by:
- common law (such as a corporation sole and corporation aggregate)
- statute (such as the Australian Securities & Investments Commission)
- registration pursuant to statute (such as a company, building society, credit union, trade union, and incorporated association).
If an entity is not established under an Act of Parliament, or under a statutory procedure of registration, such as the Corporations Law or an Incorporation Act, it is generally not a body corporate.
Each state and territory has legislation that allows various kinds of non-profit bodies to become bodies corporate. Bodies incorporated under these Acts are normally community, cultural, educational or charitable type organisations.