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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Liability Insurance : D & O - Insured .. .. 'natural person' !!

The Guru told the disciple not to grieve at his departure. It was true that they would not see his body in its physical manifestation but he would be ever present among the Khalsas. Whenever the Sikhs needed guidance or counsel, they should assemble before the Granth in all sincerity and decide their future line of action in the light of teachings of the Master, as embodied in the Granth. The noble ideas embodied in the Granth would live for ever and show people the path to bliss and happiness. The aforesaid conspectus visualises how Juristic Person was coined to subserve to the needs of the society. It is really the religious faith that leads to the installation of an idol in a temple. Once installed, it is recognised as a juristic person. The idol may be revered in homes but its juristic personality is only when it is installed in a public temple.

~ not any religious discourse .. .. but text excerpted from judgement of Supreme court of India in ShriomaniGurudwaraPrabandhak ... vs Shri SomNathDass&Orsdelivered on 29 March, 2000.

The question raised in this appeal is of far reaching consequences and is of great significance to one of the major religious followers of this country. The question was: whether the Guru Granth Sahib could be treated as a juristic person or not? In Sikhism, the  last of the living guru was Guru GobindSinghji who recorded the sanctity of Guru Granth Sahib and gave it the recognition of a living Guru.

Miles away, a few years back, in a world-first a New Zealand river was  granted the same legal rights as a human being.The local Māori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island has fought for the recognition of their river – the third-largest in New Zealand – as an ancestor for 140 years.  On that remarkable day in Kiwiland,  hundreds of tribal representatives wept with joy when their bid to have their kin awarded legal status as a living entity was passed into law.“The reason we have taken this approach is because we consider the river an ancestor and always have,” said  the lead negotiator for the Whanganui iwi [tribe].

In case you are wondering the need for reading this post :- we have liability policies – more specifically the ‘Directors and Officers Liability Policy’ – a Policy where Insurers pay loss or each insured resulting from any claim first made during the policy period for any wrongful act in the insured’s capacity as a director, officer or employee …. … ’.. here Company is the policy holder while Insured is described as ‘any natural person’ who was, is, or shall become a director or officer of the company …. … ….

In jurisprudence, a natural person is a person (in legal meaning, i.e., one who has its own legal personality) that is an individual human being, as opposed to a legal person, which may be a private (i.e., business entity or non-governmental organization) or public (i.e., government) organization. Historically, a human being was not necessarily a natural person in some jurisdictions where slavery existed (subject of a property right) rather than a person.

In many cases, fundamental human rights are implicitly granted only to natural persons. For example, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states a person cannot be denied the right to vote based on their biological sex, or Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equality rights, apply to natural persons only. Another example of the distinction between natural and legal persons is that a natural person can hold public office, but a corporation cannot.

For ease of understanding, “Natural Person”  is a Human Being. Legal Person can be a being - real or imaginary.

Now continuing further, in a unique ruling, the Uttarakhand High Court accorded the status of a "legal person or entity" to animals in the state, saying "they have a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person".A division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Lokpal Singh bestowed the unique status on the animal kingdom while issuing a series of directions to prevent cruelty against animals.The bench said the order was aimed "to protect and promote greater welfare of animals, including avian and aquatic, [and for this] animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/ legal person".

Way back on 28th Apr 1925  Bombay High Court dealt with an interesting appeal in the case : PramathaNath Mullick vs Pradyumna Kumar Mullick.  The questions raised by this appeal were for the control and worship of a Hindu family idol. It was reference to  Thakur,  the Thakurani, a female idol referred to in some of the papers as the consort of the Thakur, and there was also a third, a sacred or deified stone called the Salgram Sila. These three idols became the objects of the pious worship of the family of the founder, Mutty Lal Mullick, who originally installed them.  The appeal was on a decree of 1923 made by the High Court in Calcutta in its Civil Appellate Jurisdiction reversing a decree dated June 1, 1922, made by the same Court in its Original Civil Jurisdiction.

Ages since we have moved to the World of Computers and ‘Artificial Intelligence’.  Recently, a  collaborative research team claimed their artificially intelligent system should be recognized as the rightful inventor of two innovative designs, in a potentially disruptive development in patent law.Patent law is complicated even at the best of times, but a new project led by researchers from the University of Surrey could make it more convoluted still. Called the Artificial Inventor Project, the initiative is “seeking intellectual property rights for the autonomous output of artificial intelligence.”

As BBC reported, the researchers are claiming that an artificially intelligent system named DABUS is the rightful inventor of two designs, namely a complex, fractal-like system of interlocking food containers and a rhythmic warning light for attracting extra attention. To that end, the researchers are filing patents on behalf of DABUS with the respective patent bodies in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.The inventor of DABUS, Stephen Thaler, is also involved in the project. DABUS is famous for creating surrealist art, but it can do a lot more. And in fact, it’s not designed for a specific task. Instead, Thaler describes DABUS as a “Creativity Engine” capable of generating “novel ideas,” which it compares to other ideas in its pre-existing database to assess just how novel its newfangled idea actually is.“So with patents, a patent office might say, ‘If you don’t have someone who traditionally meets human-inventorship criteria, there is nothing you can get a patent on,’”  wrote the BBC. “In which case, if AI is going to be how we’re inventing things in the future, the whole intellectual property system will fail to work.”

Interesting ! ~ or confusing ! ~ something on Liability Insurance .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Aug 2019.

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