Companies law (or the law of business associations) is the field of law concerning companies and other business organizations. It is an establishment formed to carry on commercial enterprises. This includes corporations, partnerships and other associations which usually carry on some form of economic or charitable activity. The most prominent kind of company, usually referred to as a "corporation", is a "juristic person", i.e. it has separate legal personality, and those who invest money into the business have limited liability for any losses the company makes, governed by corporate law. The largest companies are usually publicly listed on stock exchanges around the world. Even single individuals, also known as sole traders may incorporate themselves and limit their liability in order to carry on a business.
According to one source, "it may be formed by Act of Parliament, by Royal Charter, or by registration under company law (referred to as a limited liability or joint-stock company)."In the United Kingdom, the main regulating laws are the Companies Act 1985 and the Companies Act 2006. Reportedly, "a company registered under this Act has limited liability: its owners (the shareholders) have no financial liability in the event of winding up the affairs of the company, but they might lose the money already invested in it",In the USA, companies are registered in a particular state—Delaware being especially favoured—and become Incorporated (Inc).
In North America, two of the earliest companies were The London Company (also called the Charter of the Virginia Company of London)—a English joint stock company established by royal charter by James I of England on April 10, 1606 with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America—and Plymouth Company that was granted an identical charter as part of the Virginia Company. The London Company was responsible for establishing the Jamestown Settlement, the first permanent English settlement in the present United States in 1607, and in the process of sending additional supplies, inadvertently settled the Somers Isles, alias Bermuda, the oldest-remaining English colony, in 1609.