For centuries people have worked together through the vehicle of legal partnerships. These are mutual arrangements based on trust and common intentions. While the business model is seen by some as outdated, there is no doubt that partnerships are very much part and parcel of modern commercial life. Solicitors, doctors, engineers and other businesses work together in the form of partnerships, partly due to their efficiency over companies and partly because some professionals (such as solicitors) are not permitted by their governing bodies to work through companies.

Invariably, things do not always work out the way they were planned. Disputes between partners are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. And when they arise, they often take on a more personal tone than those arising between stakeholders in a company. This is perhaps because of the personal nature of the partnership itself as a business vehicle. Some of these disputes are easily resolved, provision for them having been made in a partnership agreement. Others are less straight forward and can lead to litigation and, ultimately, dissolution of the partnership.

Our aim is to advise partners both in respect of their dealings among themselves and the dealings of the partnership with third parties. Where disputes arise - whether between the partners or between the partnership and outsiders - we are able to provide the best legal advice and representation with a view to restoring, where possible, the trust which is the foundation of the business.

Legal Advice

The law relating to legal partnerships is contained primarily in the Partnership Act 1890. It is perhaps incredible that the Oireachtas has been so reluctant to touch this short piece of legislation enacted more than a century ago. This is all the more surprising given the prevalence of partnerships in modern society. One of the reasons for this lack of interference may be because, while the Act of 1890 applies by default, the specific rules governing partnerships are normally contained in the partnership agreement which the partners enter upon joining in the venture. The partnership agreement defines their respective shares, entitlements, duties and, perhaps most importantly, the procedure for dealing with disputes. It is for this reason that a partnership agreement is recommended in every case where parties are considering forming a partnership. Unfortunately, many people ignore this document or give insufficient thought to its content. It is often in those circumstances where legal advice is required when things go wrong.

The law of partnerships is not straightforward and requires specialist legal advice. Mahmud's commercial practice includes providing such advice in all situations. Below is just a sample of the situations in which Mahmud has advised clients in this context:

Legal representation

As with legal advice, we are able to provide legal representation to both the partnership (where it is involved in a dispute with a third party) as well as the partners individually (where the dispute is between the partners). In both situations, our primary concern is obtaining the best possible result for our client in the most cost-effective way. For example, we may advise the client to consider mediation as a form of dispute resolution instead of the courts. If the client and the other parties agree, we can represent them in the mediation and hopefully resolve the issue at a fraction of the cost and time of litigation. Indeed, many partnership agreements require the partners to refer differences to mediation before resorting to litigation. Where litigation is needed to resolve the issue then we can provide expert, specialist representation from Counsel and, where required, a solicitor.

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