Preventing (or resolving) disputes in business partnerships

dispute resolution in business partnerships

While your relationship with your business partner may be amicable today, there is no guarantee of what lies ahead tomorrow. Paul Edels, a solicitor at Goodman Grant, advises on how to avoid or resolve disputes in business partnerships.

Relationships are inevitably tenuous and at the mercy of fickle emotions. Even the strongest bond can break if you hurt feelings and bruise egos. That change of heart may be a long time coming, or happen overnight. It’s only human nature that we should find favour and then lose it along the way. It’s not too different with relationships in the dental profession. Here, business partnerships are intrinsically personal and almost tantamount to a marriage.

Even the most solid partnerships can disintegrate and leave both disgruntled parties wishing to see the back of each other. They fall out or hold different opinions. Professional familiarity might have bred contempt. Breaking up itself may not be hard to do. However, the actual process of extricating yourself from a partnership can be fraught with challenges. The potential for losses to your practice, well-being and reputation are at risk if you do not address them properly.

Granted, the prospect of conflict with their partners or associates is not something most dentists think of when considering the legal cover for their practice. For instance, when I mention I deal with dental law and litigation, many dentists assume that I focus on clinical negligence, and they naturally already have that taken care of. They fail to look at the issue from the commercial context. One day, they could be at loggerheads with their partner, associate, employee, expense sharer or even the dentist acquiring their practice.

Formal or informal?

When everything is amicable in the partnership,...

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