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Partnership Disputes: Conflicts, Causes, and Resolutions


Partnerships offer many advantages, but when conflicts arise, they can also be the cause of legal issues. A partnership dispute can be complicated and have severe consequences for the business, including financial losses, damage to reputation, or possible dissolution of partnership. 

Parties involved in these disputes should explore their common causes, understand their impact, and know how to resolve them effectively. If the dispute escalates, seeking legal counsel to secure a solution in one’s best interest is recommended.

What is a Partnership?

Partnerships are contractual business relationships between two or more co-owners. As such, each partner typically shares the same business profits and liabilities. For example, if the business is in debt, a creditor may seek relief from an individual partner who would be financially liable for all or a portion of the debt. 

Business partnerships offer advantages, including more capital, greater borrowing capacity, limited external regulation, private business affairs, and a flexible legal structure.

Common Causes of Partnership Disputes

Some of the most common causes of business partnership disputes are: 

  • Misaligned goals and expectations among partners.
  • Unequal contributions of time, money, or resources to the business.
  • Issues concerning the division of ownership between partners.
  • Misappropriation, fraud, or theft of partnership assets.
  • Lack of communication between partners and staff.
  • Conflicts of interest between a partner’s business duties and personal interests.

All these can cause conflict, reduce performance, produce disharmony within the partnership, or in severe cases, lead to a dissolution of partnership. Additionally, when partners do not get along on a personal level, it can be challenging to work together effectively. 

Therefore, partners must establish clear expectations and roles, communicate openly and honestly, and conduct business professionally and respectfully to avoid the negative impacts of a partnership dispute. Seeking advice from a business litigation lawyer could also be helpful in navigating any potential conflicts that may arise.

The Impact of Partnership Disputes

Significant partnership conflicts will affect the business’s overall productivity and efficiency. Consider the following impacts these disputes may have:

  • Financial loss: This can significantly strain business performance and may be difficult to recover from. Some examples of financial loss include wasted resources and decreased profits.
  • Damage to reputation: Customers, suppliers, and investors may all be negatively impacted when a business displays disharmony or disorganization.
  • Loss of business opportunities: For example, if partners cannot agree on a new product line, the business may miss out on the chance to enter a new market.
  • Strained relationships: Conflicts can create tension and resentment among partners, ultimately causing a breakdown of teamwork, communication, efficiency, and productivity.
  • Legal implications: If the dispute is severe enough, it can introduce legal implications that may further harm the business and investments.

It is important to note that serious partnership disputes can result in lengthy, expensive litigation. For this reason, partners must examine alternative dispute resolution methods.

Resolving Partnership Disputes

To resolve a partnership dispute, start by reviewing your partnership agreement. See if it contains provisions for dispute resolution. If not, consider negotiating an amended agreement or consulting a business litigation lawyer during a free consultation to review your contract and provide you with options. 

Secondly, communicate with the other partner(s) to reach a mutual concession. Avoid taking disagreements personally and try to get to the heart of the issue. Explain your concerns clearly and respectfully, allowing other parties to do the same. Listen to their perspective and be willing to compromise.

In addition, you can explore alternative resolution methods, including: 

  • Negotiation and mediation: Engage a third-party mediator who can help facilitate a sound compromise. Both negotiation and mediation aim to resolve the dispute amicably without the need for costly, time-consuming litigation.
  • Arbitration: This method is similar to mediation in that a third party helps facilitate negotiations. However, in arbitration, the third party makes a binding decision. This method is often used when partnership agreements contain a clause requiring arbitration in a dispute.
  • Litigation: This formal legal process involves taking your dispute to court and hiring a business litigation lawyer. It is more expensive than other methods but may be necessary to resolve the matter.
  • Dissolution of the partnership: If the dispute cannot be resolved, partners may decide to dissolve the partnership altogether. This method involves dividing business assets and liabilities and terminating the partnership agreement.

It is important to note that each method has advantages and disadvantages, and circumstances will vary by case. Thus, it is recommended that you consult a legal professional to determine your options and make informed decisions in your best interest.


Partnership disputes can be complex and challenging to resolve. However, understanding how these disputes are caused and how to fix them can secure mutually beneficial outcomes for all parties. Finally, it is essential to remember that open communication and a willingness to compromise can go a long way in preventing a dissolution of partnership and resolving a partnership dispute.

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