A joint-stock company is a business entity in which different stocks can be bought and owned by shareholders.
Each shareholder owns company stock in proportion, evidenced by their shares (certificates of ownership).
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In modern-day corporate law, the existence of a joint-stock company is often synonymous with incorporation (possession of legal personality separate from shareholders) and limited liability (shareholders are liable for the company's debts only to the value of the money they invested in the company).