Partner disputes (otherwise known as partnership disputes) are one of the mainstays of my professional work. I am constantly engaged dealing with such disputes on behalf of clients.
I advise and assist clients (either firms or individual partners) who
- are in dispute with one or several or all of their past or present partners,
- are uncertain as to what their rights and obligations may be,
- would like to find out more before deciding what to do, and/or
- may need to enforce their rights through court proceedings, arbitration or (in the case of discrimination, whistleblowing and certain other claims) the Employment Tribunal.
How I approach partner disputes
Partner disputes often give rise to considerable stress and bitterness. It is usually beneficial to achieve an early settlement if possible. I am a CEDR-accredited mediator and have acted as mediator in partnership and LLP disputes, as well as acting for individual parties in many other mediations. My mediator training often gives rise to additional insights and strategies as to how to move a partner dispute towards a compromise.
While resolving partner disputes should always be a key focus, whenever efforts to achieve compromise do not result in settlement, I can assist clients to enforce their rights, or defend themselves against unjust or inappropriate claims. I have considerable experience (gained over many years and also very recently) of pursuing or defending partner dispute claims in the appropriate court or other forum.
Whether you are looking to extract or retain the maximum possible value, or have other objectives, I can advise you on how best to proceed.
Situations in which partner disputes arise
- Partnership dissolution
- Exiting from a partnership (retirement from/leaving a partnership)
- Garden leave/suspension
- Death of a partner
- Disputed partnership accounts
- Bad faith
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Secret profits
- Discrimination (age, sex, sexual orientation, race, nationality, religion/no religion)
- Harassment and bullying
- Breach of restrictive covenants
Partner disputes often boil down to a few key legal questions, the answers to which can have a radical effect on the outcome. These fundamental legal issues are not always apparent to the parties. They should be identified and considered as early as possible so that mistakes can be avoided.
Reliance cannot be placed solely on the provisions of any partnership agreement. The Partnership Act 1890 imposes additional rules on partnerships. There is also an overlay of over a century of judge-made case law which interprets and supplements the Partnership Act. An area that often gives rise to disputes, issues and problems is partnership dissolution, the effects of which are not always fully understood by partners.
Other statutes and regulations create extensive further rights and obligations, and again there is an overlay of case law which adds both complexity and clarity.
It is important to gain an understanding at the very outset as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of your case or position, before any steps are taken. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasised. A strategy can then be designed and implemented with a view to maximising the prospects of achieving a resolution at an early stage, at reasonable cost and on terms which achieve your desired objectives so far as possible.
My experience as a partner disputes solicitor
I have experience of acting for partners or firms in a wide variety of business sectors including professional practices (solicitors, accountants, surveyors, patent attorneys, doctors, dentists), private equity, property investment/development, construction, music industry, leisure, farming, retail, and care homes.
You can see examples of my partner dispute work here.