I have fallen out with my partner. Can I sell my share of the firm and what can I do to dispose of the practice and move on?
This is a nightmare situation for just about everybody concerned, whether you are the staff in that particular practice or the partner who has the problem with the other partner.
It is an occurrence we come across fairly regularly, with partners having mental health problems, turning to alcohol or drugs or simply deciding they don’t want to work anymore and wreaking havoc for their fellow partners.
We have come across practices that have been highly profitable and well established who are in great danger of collapse because one of the partners has ‘gone rogue’.
This is not an easy situation to extract yourself from and there are no simple solutions. One way of sorting this out is to try and get rid of the problematical partner as quietly and quickly as possible so that you can salvage some value from the remainder of the business and not let that particular person affect your work or the work of your colleagues anymore.
This is extremely difficult of course, because partners who fall out tend not to be on speaking terms and want to be as awkward as possible to each other, in the same way as a divorcing couple, which means that discussions are never easy to have. The partner you are trying to oust may not think there is anything wrong at all and wonder why the other partners are trying to get rid of them. Similarly, the partners remaining may find it quite hard to get out of the situation without damaging their work because of the potential for litigation.
There tend to be a few options, but one of them is definitely not that you can simply sell your share of the partnership to someone else. Whilst I guess this is theoretically possible, I have yet to see anybody who would want to go into partnership in a situation where the partners have fallen out and there is not much communication going on between them.
From the other partner’s perspective, why would they want to go into business with someone they hardly know? It is an impossible situation from both angles. Speak to your legal advisers about extracting yourself or dissolving the partnership and then give it a little while before looking to sell your part of the business.
I appreciate this is probably not the advice that you want to read but this is not an easy situation to be in.