Index ← 1622 CFJ 1623 1624 → text
==============================  CFJ 1623  ==============================

    The Pineapple Partnership is a person.


Caller:                                 Murphy
Barred:                                 G.
Barred:                                 OscarMeyr
Barred:                                 Zefram

Judge:                                  Pineapple Partnership
Judgement:                              TRUE



Called by Murphy:                       27 Feb 2007 23:59:58 GMT
Assigned to Pineapple Partnership:      23 Mar 2007 23:16:02 GMT
Judged TRUE by Pineapple Partnership:   27 Mar 2007 22:12:41 GMT
Appealed by root:                       30 May 2007 16:16:31 GMT


Caller's Arguments:

the Ruleset does not explicitly define "person", but R754(3)
refers to the legal definition.  In law a "person" is anything
that can be the subject of rights and duties, including
corporations and partnerships. The Pineapple Partnership is a
partnership, and thus a person, under ordinary legal definitions,
and is constructed in the context of Agoran law.  Hence it is a
person under Agoran law.


Gratuitous Arguments by Maud:

First, rule 754 (3) only requires that a term ``primarily used in
... legal contexts'' be interpreted according to the legal definition.
This is not the case for the word ``person''.  If the word
``primarily'' did not appear in the rule, the Caller's first premise
might hold, but since it does, the premise does not hold.  So the test
in (3) fails, implying that provision (4) instead applies.  In
ordinary language, only natural persons are persons.  The Pineapple
Partnership is a binding agreement, hence not a natural person, hence
not a person under Agoran law.

Second, there has been no evidence presented that the Pineapple
Partnership is a partnership.  I am not a lawyer, but I have been
informed by a lawyer that in U.S. law, the existence of a partnership
requires two or more persons (not necessarily natural) entering into
an agreement with an intent to carry on a business for profit.  The
Pineapple Partnership agreement does not give any indication what
business the supposed partnership is intended to conduct, not does it
give any indication that the supposed partnership is formed with a
view to profit.  It is the responsibility of the Caller to provide
evidence for eir claim that the Pineapple Partnership is a partnership
under U.S. law.

Third, there has been no evidence presented that partnerships are
considered to be persons.  I am not a lawyer, but I have been informed
by a lawyer that while corporations are generally considered to be
persons, partnerships are not.  In particular, partnerships do not pay
taxes, although most persons are required to pay taxes.  Partnerships
are legal entities, which is not in question.  My source found the
purported legal definition of a ``person'' as anything that can be the
subject of rights and duties to be ``overly broad'', going on to state

      ``person'' as used in the law sometimes means a natural person,
      and sometimes ... has a broader sense such that it includes
      other sorts of entities, but in no way is ``person'' a legal
      term of art that has a specific, concrete meaning.

Thus the Caller's arguments for eir interpretation of the term
``person'' do not have support in U.S. law.  In case the Caller
intended to refer to a different body of law, allow me to note that it
is, of course, the Caller's responsibility to make the intended body
of law to which e intended to refer clear.  This is especially
important when dealing with an international organization such as
Agora Nomic.

These arguments, considered singly or in conjunction, provide good
reasons for the statement to be DISMISSED or judged FALSE.  It is my
personal opinion that the first argument, based entirely in Agoran
law, is conclusive evidence that the statement is FALSE.  I sought the
perspective of a lawyer on this issue because I felt that if legal
arguments are going to be considered, we have a responsibility to
ensure that they are correct.


Judge Pineapple Partnership's Arguments:

The statement of this CFJ is identical to that of CFJ 1622, and nothing
relevant changed between the calling of the two CFJs.  If CFJ 1622 is
valid, therefore, this CFJ must be judged identically.  However, due to
the epistemological difficulty with CFJ 1622 this will not be treated
as dispositive.  This judgement will instead analyse the issue anew.

Maud has recently argued that the Pineapple Partnership would not qualify
as a partnership under US law due to it not being a for-profit business.
This argument is specious.  The Agoran rule which incorporates legal
definitions does not refer specifically to US law nor to any other
particular legal jurisdiction.  It refers only to general legal concepts.
The for-profit requirement does not exist in (for example) English law;
more to the point, it is not a general or fundamental requirement for
the legal concept of a partnership.  The agreement creating the Pineapple
Partnership also does not refer to US law; rather, it explicitly declares
itself to be "governed by the Rules of Agora".  The only specific legal
jurisdiction that matters here is Agoran law, which does not regulate
this aspect of partnership formation.

On the issue of whether the Pineapple Partnership is a partnership,
therefore, this judge finds that the relevant questions centre on whether
its construction supplies legally sensible interaction with rights and
obligations, and whether it is properly distinct from the partners.
The agreement creating the Partnership expends some verbiage on these
matters.  Obligations on the Partnership, via the agreement, become
legally-binding obligations on the partners, which is the way legal
partnerships generally operate.  On that point, therefore, the Pineapple
Partnership qualifies.  This judge finds that in all other necessary
aspects it qualifies, also, at least in the agreement's present form.

The agreement contains a provision allowing for its amendment.  This could
in principle be used to change those aspects that are essential to the
partnershiphood of the Pineapple Partnership, for example by deleting the
provision that the Partners must ensure that the Partnership satisfies
its legal obligations.  In such an event the Pineapple Partnership would
cease to be a legal partnership.  The potential for such an event does
not disqualify it from present partnershiphood nor from personhood,
just as the mortal nature of a human does not disqualify em from present
humanity or personhood.

The remaining issue, then, is whether a partnership is a person.

Maud has presented a professional opinion that in US law the definition of
"person" varies with context, and sometimes does not include partnerships
even in situations where it does include corporations.  The appeal to
US law is, once again, specious: there is no basis to claim that US law
is any more applicable to this situation than (for example) French law.
US law, in fact, is noted for being unusually corporation-friendly, and
so makes a poor model for legal comparison of partnership and coporation
statuses.  Also, Maud's point about partnerships not paying taxes in the
US is not only parochial but multiply irrelevant: Agora has no taxes,
but anyway it's a matter of tax law, not personhood.

The judge in CFJ 1622 cites a definition of a legal person as "one (as
a human being, a partnership, or a corporation) that is recognized by
law as the subject of rights and duties".  This seems a suitable basis
for consideration, as it does not refer to the law of any specific
jurisdiction.  Although this definition gives examples of classes of
person, the list is not definitive.  The essential aspect is that a
person is "the subject of rights and duties".  Precisely which classes
of entity so qualify is determined by the particular body of law in
question.  This could be determined by a law defining the word "person",
or it could be implicit, by recognising rights and duties of particular
classes of entity.

Agoran law does not define "person" explicitly.  Rule 754 can be read
as incorporating the legal definition (in its general form, of course),
but its use of the word "primarily" casts some doubt on whether "person"
is covered by that provision.  This judge finds that Rule 754 is unclear
on this issue, and so it is necessary to consider other standards.

The recent CFJ 1614, decided under the same version of all relevant
rules, turned on the question of whether an avocado can be a person.
The dismissal of that CFJ was a judgement that the avocadohood of a player
is not relevant to the rules, and thus that avocadohood does not influence
personhood.  That is, an avocado could in principle be a person.  This is
a clear rejection of the argument that "person" is to mean only "human".
Game custom also points in this inclusive direction; for example, a
player who claimed to be a blob of mauve goo was accepted without eir
personhood ever being questioned.  Game custom has been that anything
capable of communicating by email in English qualifies as a person,
and that such accidents as species and gender are entirely irrelevant.

CFJ 1614 and game custom thus allow non-human entities to be players,
and thereby to enjoy rights and incur obligations under Agoran law.
This constitutes legal personhood, so this judge finds that (via
Rule 754 or otherwise) the word "person" in the rules generally means
"legal person".  The rules have no definitive list of classes of entity
that qualify as persons, but it clearly includes avocados and blobs of
goo, at least where those are sentient and connected to the Internet.
The boundaries of personhood under Agoran law are no doubt different
from the boundaries of personhood under any other legal jurisdiction.
It is not the place of this judgement to define these boundaries in full.

It has thus been found that the Pineapple Partnership is a partnership
under Agoran law, that a partnership qualifies as a legal person for the
purposes of Agoran law, and that "person" in an Agoran context generally
refers to legal personhood.  CFJ 1623 is therefore judged TRUE.

This judge also notes that, since the calling of this CFJ, this matter in
which the rules were unclear has become a political question.  In Proposal
4913 it was referred to the voters, who rejected a Rule change which
would have made the statement of this CFJ false.  The expressed will of
Agora is for an inclusive interpretation of "person".