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The World Law Dictionary Project

English may be the common language of the world, but the Common Law is not the common law of the world

That’s why, in a unique project, TransLegal has teamed up with leading law schools from around the world to create an online multilingual law dictionary linking the world’s legal languages to a single English law dictionary.

e.g. principle, consideration, jurisdiction
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public company noun


a companywhere the shares may be offered for sale to the public through a stock exchange. The liability of the owners is limited to the shares they own.
TUI Travel is a leading UK public company listed on the stock exchange.

Hi, I'm Jonathan. Welcome to TransLegal's lesson of the week.

This week I'm going to help clear up a common mistake made by non-native English speakers.

There is often confusion over the term public company. Now a public company is actually a reference to a legal term which is a public limited company and this is a company that is permitted to offer its shares to the general public. This could be also by way of the stock exchange although note that companies which are on a stock exchange are often referred to as either listed or quoted companies.

A public company should also be distinguished from a private company, also referred to as a private limited company. This is a company which is not permitted to offer its shares to the general public, but both public and private companies operate in what is known as the private sector.

A public company should not be confused with what is known as a state-owned company. So a public company is a public limited company but it's not a state-owned company.

Now a state-owned company is a company which is owned by the government for the benefit of the general public, but the difference there is that it operates in the public sector and you can certainly understand why people get confused with the term public company.

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