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New Year – Same Old Partner?

31st January, 2012

As we approach the end of January, the post-Christmas euphoria and New Year enthusiasm may be trailing off a bit and you’re looking at your business in these unsettled times.  It’s still tough out there.

The bonhomie you felt towards your partner is wearing off along with the Christmas cheer and you’re not sure that you or the business can afford to carry him or her any more.  As you plan the next few months you realise that you need to do something, as things will not improve.

One of the more common questions we are asked, as partnership law experts, is “How do I get rid of my partner?”.  We like to give straight answers and we know that clients don’t like a “That depends” answer to a simple question, but sadly it does depend on a few things.  To help make life simpler, we’ve devised a simple flow chart to help you on your way.

The first step is to work out are whether you are really in a partnership.  If you are, is there an agreement and if there isn’t (sadly there often isn’t, but in the first flush of a new business partnership agreement are not always at the forefront of everyone’s minds).   The next thing to work out is what sort of partnership you have.  If two or more of you set up in business together with no formal agreement or forms, you are most probably in a general partnership.

Family lawyers often say that Christmas generates an increase in business for them.  Partnership disputes are really just commercial divorce and we do see a rise in them at this time of year.  It is easy to get cross, not about the fact that your partner never does the washing up, but that they don’t do their share of hours or paperwork or they treat clients/patients/customers in a way you do not like.  We understand that you just want to remove them with the minimum of fuss and be left free to get on and run your business.

Very often, these matters boil down to a straight negotiation.  You want your partner out and they will go if it is made worth their while.  Whoever’s fault it is and however appalling their behaviour, you need to make a commercial decision.  Are you prepared to pay for a quick and easy exit?  A full blown partnership dispute is very time consuming and expensive and detracts from what it is that you do – satisfying clients, treating patients and the like.  We do of course have a very big legal stick and we sometimes wave it, but our experience is that a negotiated settlement is usually best for both parties.

So, if now’s the time to do something about your problem partner, contact us for a free no-obligation chat about how we can help you.

Mark Briegal is a solicitor specialising in partnership law and partner at Aaron & Partners based in Chester and Manchester but with clients all round the country.  Mark can be contacted at [email protected] or on 0844 800 8312.


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