Partnerships under scrutiny

The Law Commission is looking at a number of ways of making partnerships more like companies, it was revealed last week.

Diana Faber of the Law Commission addressed the inaugural meeting of the Association of Partnership Practitioners (APP), a body of accountants, lawyers and bankers set up to tackle partnerships issues.

She told the audience, which included representatives from Coopers & Lybrand, Arthur Andersen and Price Waterhouse, the commission was looking at a number of significant changes.

She said one idea was to have partners registered at Companies House. The only people who could claim to be partners, or be held responsible for the partnership, would be those registered in the partners’ directory.

The commission is also looking at the question of winding-up insolvent partnerships. At present a receiver can be called in, but not a liquidator. The Law Commission has already admitted that multi-disciplinary partnerships are a possibility.

Faber also raised the question of the lack of co-ordination between the DTI committee looking at limited liability partnership legislation, the Law Commission and the DTI, which is planning a total overhaul of corporate law.

A statement in the House of Commons this week by competition minister Nigel Griffiths suggested limited liability should not be carried out until the department has looked at regulation of accountants.

Clare Murray, honorary secretary of the APP, said there seems to be confusion about what is happening. ‘It would have been helpful if it had all been tackled at the same time,’ she said. ‘Perhaps there are too many reviews.’

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