Special Franchise of a Corporation Law and Legal Definition

A special franchise is the right granted by the public to use public property for a public use, but with profit, such as the right to build and operate a railroad in the streets of a city. Such a franchise, when acted upon, becomes property and cannot be repealed, unless power to do so is reserved in the grant, although it may be condemned upon making compensation. [Lord v. Equitable Life Assurance Soc., 194 N.Y. 212 (N.Y. 1909)]

It is a franchise distinct from the franchise to be a corporation or the franchise in the sense of the powers granted in the charter.

The general franchise of a corporation is its right to live and do business by the exercise of the corporate powers granted by the state. When a right of way over a public street is granted to such corporation, with leave to construct and operate a street railroad thereon, the privilege is known as a special franchise, or the right to do something in the public highway, which, except for the grant, would be a trespass. [People ex rel. Harlem R. & P. C. R. Co. v. State Board of Tax Comm'rs, 215 N.Y. 507 (N.Y. 1915)]