Book Review: Stephen Chan, A Practical Guide to Partnership Law in Scotland

A Practical Guide to Partnership Law in Scotland, Stephen Chan (W Green 2018), 250pp, hardback, ISBN: 9780414059771

This new text, authored by a senior Scottish solicitor with extensive experience in partnership law, is unique in providing a thorough explanation of the law relating to Scottish partnerships and LLPs in the 21st century.

Although the key governing statutes apply to both English and Scottish firms, the Partnership Act 1890 makes a number of distinctions between English and Scottish partnerships (in relation to legal personality (s4(2)), partner liability (s9), partnership property (s20(2) and (3)), partners’ separate judgment debts (s23(5)), notification of partner departures (s36(2), partners’ authority in winding up (s38) and partner bankruptcy (s47)). The Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000 and the various LLP Regulations also draw some distinctions, albeit of a more minor and procedural nature. In addition, the fact that Scotland has its own legal system separate from that of England and Wales produces differences in a number of areas of law which impact on partnerships, including land law, criminal law and insolvency.

The thorough coverage of Scottish partnership and LLP law in this book is therefore important for not only to Scottish lawyers and academics, who have for some years lacked a text dedicated to Scottish law, but also to their English compatriots, since substantial parts of the law apply equally to English firms. The explanations in the book include discussion of a number of unreported Scottish cases which may be unfamiliar – and thus of particular interest – to English partnership lawyers, as well as to practitioners with a more general commercial practice. The differences between Scottish and English partnership law (and, to a lesser extent, LLP law) are clearly highlighted in the context of the relevant material, although a separate summary of the key differences would have been helpful to lawyers in both jurisdictions.

The book is particularly timely because partnership law developments in Scotland have been prominent in recent years, including legislative developments to address the problem of how to bring a criminal prosecution against a partnership which has dissolved, and that of identifying persons with significant influence over Scottish firms in order to combat money laundering, and the current government consultation on possible further regulation in relation to the misuse of Scottish limited partnerships in particular.

The structure of the book is that general partnerships are considered first, from formation (the requirement to register persons with significant influence), through partner liability and authority, decisionmaking, partner duties, separate legal personality (which Scottish partnerships, unlike English partnerships, possess), partnership property, changes in partners and partner disputes, to dissolution and winding up. The practitioner focus of the book is enhanced by the inclusion of chapters on loans and security, and on accounts. Limited partnerships are considered separately, with an emphasis on those areas where they differ from general partnerships, such as the registration requirements. There is also an interesting chapter on how limited partnerships are used in practice, and a further chapter is devoted to the private fund limited partnership (PFLP) variant on the limited partnership. The remainder of the book covers LLPs, with chapters on similar areas to those in the general partnership section, although there are also chapters on conversion to LLP status and on LLP agreements.

The book is fluently written, and the chapters are broken down into short and clearly labelled sections, with the result that it is easy to read and, together with a detailed index, easy to locate material within it. The law is fully referenced in footnotes, as are leading practitioner commentaries and, to a lesser extent, academic discourse.

In summary, this is an essential text for those advising on Scottish partnership or LLP law, but it also contains much of interest to English practitioners, and to academics and students in this area of law.

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Second Annual Conference of the Partnership, LLP and LLC Law Forum 10 January 2019

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