Before I worked in recordkeeping I had no idea that organisations had personalities. Not in the sense of corporate culture (open/restrictive, fun/staid etc), but in terms of the legal status of an organisation in respect of its rights and obligations. I've seen this described in several different ways over the years, including as 'legal personality' (or identity) or in reference to 'non natural' or (my favourite) 'incorporeal' persons.

This status can be important when dealing with information compliance issues. For example, in FoI an exemption from disclosure can require a consideration of prejudice (harm) that could be inflicted on an individual, an organisation or a public authority by the release of information.* Where specific terms are used the requirement is to consider prejudice in that context. However, if an exemption concerns prejudice to a 'person', and the exemption on commercial interests in both Scotland and the UK is phrased this way, it is important to remember that the person concerned may not be one with whom you could sit down for dinner.

*There are other examples of things that could be the subject of prejudice or harm in the FoI exemptions too. See and