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How to Handle Partner Disputes within a Business

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Partnerships work well most of the time. However, with every type of human interaction, there’s the possibility for disagreements and disputes to arise. What once made sense for the parties involved can change or evolve over time to the point where deal points within a partnership agreement are deemed no longer satisfactory.

In another situation, perhaps one partner doesn’t seem to be ‘pulling their weight’ much to the chagrin of the other partner(s) who seek to adjust the partnership agreement to divide up any profits less evenly. This would create resentment and a conflict between the partners that’s tough to resolve even if their point is well made.

There are different ways to handle disputes inside a business. We’ll now discuss a few of them below in the hopes that it will be beneficial for you.

Partnership or Board Meeting

While private, separate discussions between partners on either side of the argument or dispute can be helpful, sitting down together to try to hash things out is often the best initial approach to take. This can be at a board meeting or a partnership meeting, as appropriate.

It may be useful to create a formal meeting structure to keep things orderly. Sometimes it’s even useful to have an agreed mutual third-party to come into the meeting to adjudicate and prevent things from become rancorous. However, not everyone will be happy to do so.

The best way to resolve business difficulties with a partnership is to ask for the person to explain their grievance and to explore it until all the central points are understood. The other partners can then respond with how they see the situation. Then all partners work to find a suitable resolution to the issue that hopefully does not see one of them leave the partnership altogether.

Mediation

Mediation is a process used in business and personal lives. A trained mediator meets with the parties involved to understand and seek to resolve the issue(s). They control the meeting and help guide the discussion in a more helpful direction.

Using a mediator is sometimes beneficial when partners are finding it difficult to communicate together yet don’t seem to be that far apart on the central points of contention. At that point, it’s more of a communication breakdown than a fundamental, insurmountable obstacle to continuing the partnership. Unlike with bringing in a suitable third-party to an in-office meeting, mediators are truly independent of all partners in order to remain impartial and unbiased. This way, the partners won’t likely feel that the mediator is taking sides against them.

Help from a Law Firm

When you’re dealing with a national commercial law firm, you’re accessing significant legal minds who not only have dealt with partnership disputes before but also understand the legal angles too. The implication of changing a partnership agreement or dissolving a partnership is fully understood by a firm of solicitors like hjsolicitors.co.uk that can help advise you from the get go to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

A law firm can explain the reality for the partners who, despite the current disagreement, may all strongly agree that they do not wish to disband the partnership because of the current dispute. As such, all partners then work harder to find some middle ground they can agree on. In the absence of the legal angle, the impetus to compromise and see the other point of view isn’t always part of the equation and as a result, it can exacerbate and extend disagreements.

The Need for Partnership Agreements

Having a partnership agreement even for ordinary partnerships helps avoid disputes over misunderstandings about whom was responsible for different parts of the business or what the profit share would be. Sometimes, one partner can even deny there was a partnership in the first place because it’s beneficial for them to take this position. Even loose partnerships initially made on a handshake should be formalised because it helps prevent problems later regardless of any benefit legally from having one.

Without a partnership agreement, it falls to the older Partnership Act of 1890 which in law doesn’t provide for the needs or wants of the parties involved. It’s always better to have a partnership agreement in place. It can also lay out what’s been agreed for the steps to take to resolve disputes, so there’s a plan in place for that too. This avoids a new argument over how to resolve the dispute!

Handling partner disputes inside a business is not always easy. Sometimes there is something going on in the disputing partner’s personal life that’s affecting their thoughts and behaviour. Even seemingly minor things like a lack of quality sleep could be affecting their ability to see reason and increase their level of irritation over seemingly minor things. It’s helpful to try to see every side and cause of an issue to find a resolution to disputes. This is almost always preferable over dissolving a profitable partnership due to a short-term concern.

July 30, 2018 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Cellmark responds to legal aid cuts with reduction in price of standard DNA relationship testing

Brought to you by our friends at Cellmark

Cellmarktrans“I’ve had enough of the government pushing all my barristers around,” said HeadClerk. “From now on, I’m limiting all legal aid work to pupils.”

“But that’s hardly sufficient experience for many of the family and criminal cases that covers,” said TheVamp.
“That’s not my problem,” said HeadClerk. “You get what you pay for in this world and if they’re only prepared to pay a pittance then it’ll be pupils or nothing as far as I’m concerned.”
“Well I certainly want to keep up my legal aid work,” said BusyBody.
“You’re very welcome to…” said HeadClerk, “…at another chambers. But if you want to do charity work and remain in this chambers then you do it in your own time. We have rent to pay.”
“It’s not just barristers they’re knocking,” said TheBusker. “I had a case just the other day in which a crucial application for funding a DNA relationship test was refused.”
“Haven’t you heard?” said UpTights. “The government not only reduced the fees payable for these and didn’t even tell all of its solicitors and DNA providers.”
“The problem with all of this is that they really do risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” said HeadofChambers. “I mean, not only do you pose the risk of injustice in the system but there’s also a greater risk of having to pay appeal costs down the line.”
“It’s the same with the DNA testing,” said BusyBody. “If you cut the standard fees then you’re only encouraging firms to charge for other things that previously might have been included as a matter of goodwill.”
“Well, all I can say,” said OldRuin, “is that the DNA provider used by my firm of solicitors is called Cellmark and they’ve decided to step up to the plate and tackle this whole thing head on by reducing their price for standard DNA relationship testing to meet the new guidance.”

January 15, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Lawyers are just glorified car mechanics

Brought to you with the support of our friends at The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting

UpTights“All we are is glorified car mechanics,” said UpTights at Chambers tea today. “Just fixing minor errors caused by solicitors.”
“Except not so glorified,” said TheBusker.
“Yes, I doubt there’d be many mechanics who’d be pleased with the comparison,” said HeadofChambers.
“What’s the problem?” asked OldSmoothie. “Not had any trials of late?”
“I should be so lucky,” said UpTights. “Everything in sight just settles at the moment.”
“Do you think solicitors are just becoming more reasonable?” said TheCreep.
“Not in the slightest,” said UpTights. “Just more desperate not to risk their entitlement to costs.”
“Nice to hear that the client’s interests are continuing to prevail,” said BusyBody.
“Oh, it’s all self-justified on the basis that they don’t want to risk the client having to pay any costs,” said UpTights, “but with my solicitors I know full well that what they’re really worried about is getting something back themselves.”
“Serves you right for encouraging instructions from the likes of SlipperySlope’s firm,” said OldSmoothie.
“Well, even despite the odd bad egg, it’s still hard times at the moment,” said OldRuin, “what with the referral fee ban and fixed costs.”
“Not to mention the fact that there are big firms hovering and just waiting to gobble you up,” said UpTights.
“I quite like the idea of the law being the engine chugging away quietly under the bonnet of society,” said OldRuin.
“Or noisily in some people’s cases,” said OldSmoothie looking again at UpTights.
“So if that were the case, what would the ICLR be in those terms?” asked TheBusker.
“I guess it’d be the detailed car manual,” said TheVamp.
“For a top of the range luxury car,” said BusyBody, “with the ICLR online being the modern go to guide for all your mechanical needs.”

November 17, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Sponsored post: Always be ready for the unexpected @TheICLR

“There’s one thing I always say about life in the law and that’s always to expect the unexpected,” said OldSmoothie today.
“What like ageing, fat barristers not spouting clichéd advice to pupils?” said BusyBody.
“Or judges not having got out of bed on the wrong side,” said TheVamp.
“Or witnesses who avoid ridiculous inconsistencies,” said UpTights.
“Ushers who are not stressed,” said TheCreep.
“Solicitors who pay up on time,” said HeadClerk.
“Law students who don’t mention mooting every five minutes,” said OldSmoothie.
“Pupils who have mastered the understatement,” said HeadofChambers.
“Or QCs who don’t patronise their juniors,” said BusyBody.
“How about an opponent who isn’t using the ICLR?” said TheBusker.
TheVamp raised her eyebrows in horror. “Now that really does give me a surprise every time it happens. I mean, despite all the advice and for that matter even a Practice Direction I’m still bowled over whenever I find them not using the ICLR online.”
“Kind of like being awarded a penalty in the first minute of the game,” said Teflon.
“More like an own goal,” said TheVamp, “given that you’ve pretty much scored with the judge from the off.”

On Monday 3rd December Tim Kevan will be taking part in a discussion as part of the ICLR Encounters series of events with animator and cartoonist Alex Williams and writer and academic Professor Gary Slapper. The title is ‘Making Light of the Law’ and it will run from 6.30pm to 9.30pm at The Law Society. You can sign up for free here.  

November 6, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Sponsored post: Big cats at the Bar @TheICLR

An older barrister was in chambers this morning questioning HeadClerk about why he hadn’t had any decent briefs in the last few months.
“Very sad to see,” whispered OldSmoothie. “He used to be the very best there was but for whatever reason, solicitors have more recently looked elsewhere.”
“Reminds me of the roar of a dying lion,” said UpTights.
“It will come to us all,” said OldSmoothie. “The only question is when.”
“That’s if the bar even survives all the changes that are going on,” said UpTights.
“Ah, the paranoia of the bar,” said TheBusker. “You know, I overheard one of the more junior members of chambers turning down a three thousand pound brief the other day because they’re felling a little tired and wanted a week away in Barbados. If we’re talking animals, it reminded me of a spoilt little kitten licking itself after having already  had its fill of cream.”
“Yes, that’s all very well until they start to realise that there are more kittens coming up behind them starting to steal that cream,” said BusyBody.
“But surely there’s enough to go round for everybody,” said one of the pupils.
“Ah, the innocence of youth,” said HeadofChambers.
“You arrive at the Bar,” said UpTights looking a little manic, “and fight to build a practice against other barristers doing just the same. Then once you’ve done that you cling onto it for as long as you possibly can. The one day, you wake up and wonder what on earth all the nonsense was all about.”
“Well, the young grow old as surely as lawyers get rich,” said OldRuin. “But one thing which has remained a constant throughout is the quality of the ICLR and I have to admit that despite my occasional difficulties with technology, I’m thoroughly enjoying using the ICLR online.”

September 30, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR, Sponsored

Sponsored post: The key to winning @TheICLR

Two of the pupils had raised the question today as to what it is that really wins a case.
“Not hiring TheCreep is a good start,” said BusyBody.
“I always make a point of hiring OldSmoothie when UpTights is on the other side. With his arrogance and pomposity he never fails to press her buttons,” said SlipperySlope the solicitor.
“For me it always come down to finding the key to the particular case,” said TheBusker. “It’s there on every single case and it’s just a matter of finding out what it is and where.”
“Like what?” asked on of the pupils.
“Like an inconsistency in the medical records or between one witness statement and another. Or it might be a turn of phrase in the solicitors correspondence which gives away something they were trying to hide.”
“It’s true,” said OldSmoothie. “It’s like there’s the real story and then there’s the story as told by the evidence and usually you need to get behind that evidence to work out what’s really going on.”
“And once you’ve finally got hold of that key then never let go,” said Teflon.
“Particularly in the face of a bad-tempered judge,” said BusyBody. “Sometimes the key can leave a judge facing a result he wasn’t expecting or which he doesn’t like and that can cause a certain amount of er, resistance.” She paused as if re-living a few of the worse moments of judicial resistance. “It’s at those times that you need to make sure that you hold onto the point most tightly.”
“And never ever let yourself be bullied by the other side,” said TheVamp. “When the other side suddenly get personal or overly aggressive it tends to indicate a lack of confidence in their case.”
“What is it they say about there being three things to great advocacy?” said OldSmoothie. “Preparation, preparation, preparation.”
“And I would add a fourth point to that” said OldRuin, “and it involves your choice of law reports. So I’d say, yes, preparation, preparation, preparation and then if you really want to win then always use the ICLR online.”

September 3, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR, Sponsored

Sponsored post: @TheICLR Ignore the new Practice Direction on the Citation of Authorities at your peril!

I had a small appeal today and my opponent was none other than TheCreep turned up with a huge bundle of authorities. Having failed to bash me over the head with them in the robing room, we went into court. Before TheCreep could even start whining on, the judge boomed: “MrCreep, you have provided me with a ridiculous number of so-called authorities and yet not a single one of them comes from the Official Law Reports on the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting. I will adjourn this case until you manage to comply with the Practice Direction: Citation of Authorities (2012).” He then quoted a particular section:

“Where a judgment is reported in the Official Law Reports (A.C., Q.B., Ch., Fam.) published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales, that report must be cited. These are the most authoritative reports; they contain a summary of the argument. Other series of reports and official transcripts of judgment may only be used when a case is not reported in the Official Law Reports.”

TheCreep looked crestfallen and dashed out of court. Eventually, his furious-looking solicitor managed to get copies of the authorities faxed from his own office and he came back with revised bundles mumbling about never instructing such an amateur again. TheCreep then delivered his submissions to a notably unimpressed bench.

As for my own submissions, my Skeleton Argument took a strategy of TheBusker’s that I’d used before and said simply: “The appeal is misconceived since it fails to refer to the binding Court of Appeal case of [name of my magic case].” As TheBusker had explained to me in the past: “Judges will be impressed both by your courage and your cheek in resting simply on this one sentence. Above all, they’ll believe that no-one would possibly dare to do such a short Skeleton unless they were absolutely certain they were going to win.” Then he added with a smile, “So it’s always good ground for a bluff.”

In the judge’s summing up, he said: “Mr BabyBarista provided me with a commendably brief Skeleton Argument, the reasoning of which I accept in its entirety. I should add that this case highlights that a single authority well-chosen and downloaded from the ICLR Online can be worth more than a multitude of lesser authorities, all the more so when they are drawn from less authoritative sources.”

May 29, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR, Sponsored, Uncategorized

Sponsored post: Passing the buck down the legal tree of life @ICLR

THE TOP OF THE TREE
Judge to OldSmoothie: “Mr OldSmoothie, you and I have known each other many years and by now you should well know my preference for the official ICLR law reports. I’d never taken you for a dunce before but really, how long will it be until you learn such a simple lesson?”

THE UPPER CANOPY
OldSmoothie to his solicitor: “I can’t believe that you filed an official court bundle of authorities without using the ICLR. I’d never taken you for a fool before but really, how long will it be until you learn such a simple lesson?”

THE TREE TRUNK
Solicitor to articled clerk: “How could you bring the reputation of this great firm into such disrepute by failing to use the ICLR? I’d never taken you for a complete idiot before but really, how long will it be until you learn such a simple lesson?”

THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE TREE
Articled clerk to OldSmoothie’s pupil: “When I rang you and asked for some free help sorting out the bundle of authorities, the very last thing I thought you’d do is ruin the whole thing by failing to use the ICLR online. I’d never taken you for being quite such a shambolic loser before but really, how long will it be until you learn such a simple lesson?”

BELOW THE BOTTOM OF THE TREE
OldSmoothie’s pupil to OldSmoothie’s mini-pupil: “How on earth do you think you’ll make it to the Bar when you don’t even think to use the official law reports? I’d never thought a pupil could be so utterly useless before but really, how long will it be until you learn such a simple lesson?”

ABOVE THE TREE TOPS
OldRuin to OldSmoothie’s mini-pupil: “Don’t worry, young man. The legal world is full of bullies from top to bottom. Just never forget: don’t be scared, keep your eyes on the horizon and above all don’t let them turn you into one of them. Oh, and lest you forget, it always helps if you soften them up by using the ICLR online, particularly in the light of the Lord Chief Justice’s new Practice Direction on the Citation of Authorities.”

April 26, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR, Sponsored, Uncategorized

Sponsored post: Don’t let those old Facebook photos hinder your pupillage application! @TheICLR

Chambers were discussing one of the candidates for a third six pupillage today.
“He’s by far and away the best-qualified of the applicants,” said OldSmoothie.
“I completely agree,” said UpTights. “But we do have one more issue to check over.” She looked over at HeadClerk. “What are the results of our social media vetting?”
“Er, well…” HeadClerk squirmed awkwardly.
“What?” asked UpTights. “Come on now, let’s have it.”
“Well, let me perhaps show you instead,” said HeadClerk.
He busied himself with plugging the computer into the overhead projector. He then theatrically pressed another button and a Facebook page came to light.
“As you can see, this candidate failed to adjust his privacy settings so that these pictures are there for everyone to see,” said HeadClerk.
“And what’s the big problem?” asked TheVamp.
“Well, if we flick back to a photo from a few years ago when he was evidently at university, you will find that…”
A picture came up on the screen of the candidate inhaling from a large cylindrically-shaped object.
“What is it?” asked OldSmoothie. “Is it some form of old-fashioned asthma inhaler?”
Er, well, you might say that,” said TheVamp. “Although I think you’ll find it’s commonly known as a bong.”
“A what?” said OldSmoothie.
“Used for smoking cannabis.”
“Oh.”
“Come on,” said BusyBody. “This is a complete invasion of his privacy. We have no permission to be looking at these photos.”
“Er, yes, quite,” said HeadofChambers looking shifty. “Although since the cat, as they say, is now out of the bag, what are we supposed to do?”
“Ignore it, that’s what,” said BusyBody. “And anyway, whatever happened to that old principle of innocent until proven guilty?”
OldSmoothie guffawed. “Oh do be quiet and leave the theatrics for the juries BusyBody.”
“But there’s absolutely no proof that he’s inhaling cannabis,” she replied.
“Er, so what would you suggest he is inhaling?” said OldSmoothie.
“And even if it was, surely we should be forgiving of such minor indiscretions of youth,” she persisted.
“The real problem we have here,” said OldSmoothie, “is to decide whether or not he is now reformed.”
“How on earth are we going to know that?” asked TheVamp.
“Well, let’s take a flick through his more recent photos,” said HeadClerk.
He did so before HeadofChambers shouted, “Stop!”
“What is it?” asked OldSmoothie as they all stared at a more recent photo of him in his barrister garb and clearly sitting outside of court. “That doesn’t tell us anything at all.”
“Zoom in a little if you can,” said HeadofChambers.
HeadClerk did so.
“A little to the left…there. Well, that decides it for me,” said HeadofChambers sitting back.
“Fair enough,” said OldSmoothie. “I think we can officially now say that he’s back on the right side of the tracks.”
“But what is it?” asked TheCreep, clearly thinking that he was missing out on something himself.
“I wouldn’t expect you to notice,” said OldSmoothie, “but if you look closely, you’ll see that that’s a print-off of a case from the ICLR online that he’s carrying there.”
Everyone peered again.
“It’s good enough for me,” said UpTights. “If he’s got the sense to use the ICLR then I’m happy to believe he’s got the sense to have turned his back on his old ways.”
“Alleged old ways,” added BusyBody still smarting at the injustice of it all.

March 28, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Sponsored post: Avoid the imposter syndrome with the ICLR online

The pupils are now preparing for their first days in court which start in April and today they were sharing their worries with the rest of chambers.
“The problem is,” said one, “that I’ll feel like a complete fraud. I mean, people have this image of barristers being all so well-qualified and everything and in actual fact I’ll have absolutely no idea what’s going on at all.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” said BusyBody. “OldSmoothie still has no idea what’s going on even after thirty years of practise.”
“To be fair, I still get a little nervous sometimes,” said TheVamp. “Particularly when a really experienced solicitor instructs me and I kind of think that they’d be much better doing it themselves.”
“I think they call it the imposter syndrome,” said TheCreep. “That however good you are objectively, you never quite feel like the real thing in your own head.”
“I think OldSmoothie suffers from the opposite of that,” said UpTights. “That however bad he is objectively, he still seems to come out over-flowing with confidence.”
“Don’t worry,” said TheBusker looking at the pupils. “Everyone has to start somewhere.”
“But what if they ask me how many cases I’ve done?” piped up another.
“I’m ashamed to say that I lied when that happened to me,” said BusyBody. “I wouldn’t recommend it though as it got me into all sorts of trouble with the client.”
“It’s worse when the judge guesses you’re new and starts making fun at your expense,” said Teflon. “Though I imagine it happens less often these days.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said OldSmoothie. “I still enjoy a spot of pupil-baiting. “I share a points scoring system with a couple of other part-time judges. Getting a stutter is a one point, a blush is two and losing their train of thought three. It goes all the way up to ten with nine points for getting a pupil to break down and beg for help and ten points if it’s in front of their client.”
The pupils now looked absolutely terrified. “Don’t worry,” said TheBusker. “Not all judges are as cruel as him and even for those ones there’s a golden bullet which always wins them around.”
He paused for theatrical effect as the pupils looked ever more desperate for the answer. “What is it?” said one.
“Always take along the ICLR online case reports. Not only does it win over even the most pompous of bullying judges but it also acts as a great comfort blanket.” TheBusker looked at them reassuringly before adding, “So remember, you’ll never feel like an imposter with your ICLR cases at the ready.”
“And whilst you’re at it,” said BusyBody, “you might want to head along to the ICLR’s stand at the National Pupillage Fair this Saturday 3rd March at Lincoln’s Inn and collect your free ‘How to survive pupillage kit’.

February 29, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR, Sponsored