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UK Public General Acts

Version 06/04/2017

1890 CHAPTER 39 53 and 54 Vict

Default Geographical Extent: E+W+S+N.I.

  • Nature of Partnership
  • Relations of Partners to persons dealing with them
  • Relations of Partners to one another
  • Dissolution of Partnership, and its consequences
  • Supplemental

Introductory Text

Partnership Act 1890

1890 CHAPTER 39 53 and 54 Vict

An Act to declare and amend the Law of Partnership.

[14th August 1890]


Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1 Act modified (1.1.1999) by 1998 Measure No. 1, s. 6(4);Instrument dated 14.10.1998 made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

C2 Act extended by Limited Partnerships Act 1907 (c. 24), s. 7

C3 This Act is not necessarily in the form in which it has effect in Northern Ireland

C4 Act applied by 2007 c. 27, s. 27A(6) (as inserted (1.3.2016) by Serious Crime Act 2015 (c. 9), s. 88(1), Sch. 1 para. 20; S.I. 2016/148, reg. 3(f))

Commencement Information

I1 Act wholly in force at 1.1.1891 by s. 49 (now repealed)

Nature of Partnership

1 Definition of partnership.

(1) Partnership is the relation which subsists between persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit.

(2) But the relation between members of any company or association which is—

[F1 (a) registered under the Companies Act 2006, or]
(b) Formed or incorporated by or in pursuance of any other Act of Parliament or letters patent, or Royal Charter; F2 . . .
F2 . . .
is not a partnership within the meaning of this Act.

Amendments (Textual)

F1 S. 1(2)(a) substituted (1.10.2009) by The Companies Act 2006 (Consequential Amendments, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2009 (S.I. 2009/1941), art. 1(2), Sch. 1 para. 2 (with art. 10)

F2 S. 1(2): the word "or" and subsection (c) repealed (19.11.1998) by 1998 c. 43, s. 1(1), Sch. 1 Pt. X Group 1

2 Rules for determining existence of partnership.

In determining whether a partnership does or does not exist, regard shall be had to the following rules:

(1) Joint tenancy, tenancy in common, joint property, common property, or part ownership does not of itself create a partnership as to anything so held or owned, whether the tenants or owners do or do not share any profits made by the use thereof.

(2) The sharing of gross returns does not of itself create a partnership, whether the persons sharing such returns have or have not a joint or common right or interest in any property from which or from the use of which the returns are derived.

(3) The receipt by a person of a share of the profits of a business is primâ facie evidence that he is a partner in the business, but the receipt of such a share, or of a payment contingent on or varying with the profits of a business, does not of itself make him a partner in the business; and in particular—

(a) The receipt by a person of a debt or other liquidated amount by instalments or otherwise out of the accruing profits of a business does not of itself make him a partner in the busines or liable as such:
(b) A contract for the remuneration of a servant or agent of a person engaged in a business by a share of the profits of the business does not of itself make the servant or agent a partner in the business or liable as such:
(c) A person being the widow[F3 , widower, surviving civil partner ] or child of a deceased partner, and receiving by way of annuity a portion of the profits made in the business in which the deceased person was a partner, is not by reason only of such receipt a partner in the business or liable as such:
(d) The advance of money by way of loan to a person engaged or about to engage in any business on a contract with that person that the lender shall receive a rate of interest varying with the profits, or shall receive a share of the profits arising from carrying on the business, does not of itself make the lender a partner with the person or persons carrying on the business or liable as such. Provided that the contract is in writing, and signed by or on behalf of all the parties thereto:
(e) A person receiving by way of annuity or otherwise a portion of the profits of a business in consideration of the sale by him of the goodwill of the business is not by reason only of such receipt a partner in the business or liable as such.

Amendments (Textual)

F3 Words in s. 2 inserted (5.12.2005) by Civil Partnership Act 2004 (c. 33), s. 263(10)(b), Sch. 27 para. 2; S.I. 2005/3175, art. 2(2)

3 Postponement of rights of person lending or selling in consideration of share of profits in case of insolvency.

In the event of any person to whom money has been advanced by way of loan upon such a contract as is mentioned in the last foregoing section, or of any buyer of a goodwill in consideration of a share of the profits of the business, being adjudged a bankrupt, entering into an arrangement to pay his creditors less than [F4 100p] in the pound, or dying in insolvent circumstances, the lender of the loan shall not be entitled to recover anything in respect of his loan, and the seller of the goodwill shall not be entitled to recover anything in respect of the share of profits contracted for, until the claims of the other creditors of the borrower or buyer for valuable consideration in money or money’s worth have been satisfied.


Amendments (Textual)

F4 Words substituted by virtue of Decimal Currency Act 1969 (c. 19), s. 10(1)

4 Meaning of firm.

(1) Persons who have entered into partnership with one another are for the purposes of this Act called collectively a firm, and the name under which their business is carried on is called the firm-name.

(2) In Scotland a firm is a legal person distinct from the partners of whom it is composed, but an individual partner may be charged on a decree or diligence directed against the firm, and on payment of the debts is entitled to reliefpro ratâfrom the firm and its other members.


Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C5 S. 4(2) excluded by Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 1983 (c. 46, SIF 2:3), s. 1(3), Sch. 1 para. 3(b) and by Capital Transfer Tax Act 1984 (c. 51, SIF 65), s.119(2)

C6 S. 4(2) excluded (S.) (25.9.1991) by Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991 (c. 55, SIF 2:3), ss. 25(5), 89(2), Sch. 2 Pt. III, para. 3(b) (with s. 45(3), Sch. 12 para. 3)

Relations of Partners to persons dealing with them

5 Power of partner to bind the firm.

Every partner is an agent of the firm and his other partners for the purpose of the business of the partnership; and the acts of every partner who does any act for carrying on in the usual way business of the kind carried on by the firm of which he is a member bind the firm and his partners, unless the partner so acting has in fact no authority to act for the firm in the particular matter, and the person with whom he is dealing either knows that he has no authority, or does not know or believe him to be a partner.

6 Partners bound by acts on behalf of firm.

An act or instrument relating to the business of the firm done or executed in the firm-name, or in any other manner showing an intention to bind the firm, by any person thereto authorised, whether a partner or not, is binding on the firm and all the partners.

Provided that this section shall not affect any general rule of law relating to the execution of deeds or negotiable instruments.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C7 S. 6 applied (20.10.1995) by S.I. 1995/2518, reg. 7(2)

7 Partner using credit of firm for private purposes.

Where one partner pledges the credit of the firm for a purpose apparently not connected with the firm’s ordinary course of business, the firm is not bound, unless he is in fact specially authorised by the other partners; but this section does not affect any personal liability incurred by an individual partner.

8 Effect of notice that firm will not be bound by acts of partner.

If it has been agreed between the partners that any restriction shall be placed on the power of any one or more of them to bind the firm, no act done in contravention of the agreement is binding on the firm with respect to persons having notice of the agreement.

9 Liability of partners.

Every partner in a firm is liable jointly with the other partners, and in Scotland severally also, for all debts and obligations of the firm incurred while he is a partner; and after his death his estate is also severally liable in a due course of administration for such debts and obligations, so far as they remain unsatisfied, but subject in England or Ireland to the prior payment of his separate debts.

10 Liability of the firm for wrongs.

Where, by any wrongful act or omission of any partner acting in the ordinary course of the business of the firm, or with the authority of his co-partners, loss or injury is caused to any person not being a partner in the firm, or any penalty is incurred, the firm is liable therefor to the same extent as the partner so acting or omitting to act.

11 Misapplication of money or property received for or in custody of the firm.

In the following cases; namely—

(a) Where one partner acting within the scope of his apparent authority receives the money or property of a third person and misapplies it; and
(b) Where a firm in the course of its business receives money or property of a third person, and the money or property so received is misapplied by one or more of the partners while it is in the custody of the firm;
the firm is liable to make good the loss.

12 Liability for wrongs joint and several.

Every partner is liable jointly with his co-partners and also severally for everything for which the firm while he is a partner therein becomes liable under either of the two last preceding sections.