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Shareholder and partner disputes

Resolving business owner disputes

The relationship between business owners is like a marriage. Trust, communication and respect are all necessary to ensure an effective working relationship and a profitable business. If this is lost, it can lead to disagreements or a breakdown in communication – a situation which may be irreparable.

dispute between business owners can therefore be just as personal and as acrimonious as any divorce, because it involves the breakdown of a relationship. If you take legal advice early, independent mediation may be enough to resolve your problems. If not, we have the know-how and understanding to assist you and will be ready to offer effective advice and representation.

We start by helping you assess whether there’s a potential solution to the issues you are faced with, or whether the relationship should be brought to an end. In any ownership dispute, the business and its owners can suffer, so we work with our client to find a quick and amicable resolution. However, in some situations an owner may have no option but to fight. If that’s the case, we work closely with our client to find a commercial resolution through the court process.

Our expertise covers two main areas, shareholder disputes and partnership disputes:

Shareholder Disputes

Shareholder disputes are a recurrent feature of corporate life and often occur when a minority shareholder believes that a majority shareholder is not acting in the best interests of the company.

Shareholders have a number of statutory and contractual rights. We always look to see if the dispute can be resolved by asserting one of those rights and always consider those rights to determine whether there has been a breach by the majority and/or the minority. We then seek to resolve the dispute depending on the facts.

Minority shareholders have other rights against the majority and there are various claims that they may be able to pursue to include a derivative action; a just and equitable winding up and/or an unfair prejudice petition. Our team can assist in respect of any of these issues and we regularly advise both minority and majority shareholders. Please see our expertise page for further details.

Partnership Disputes

“It is rare to find a business partner who is selfless. If you are lucky it happens once in a lifetime” Michael Eisner

There are an increasing number of disputes amongst partners and these often occur when a partnership is looking to recruit, downsize or retire an older partner. Or perhaps, when partners want to shift the focus of the business, make changes or expel a partner for poor conduct or performance.

These are all sensitive issues that need careful handling. We advise both remaining and departing partners in professional partnerships including general medical practitioners, accountants, solicitors and architects. We advise in respect of expulsion, breach of fiduciary duty, winding up, dissolution and actions for accounts.

Why choose Clarke Willmott for ownership disputes

  • Balanced, robust approach
  • Strong strategic and commercial understanding
  • Proven track record of success
  • Experts in bringing and defending actions
  • Flexible fee arrangements including fixed fees
  • Leading Legal 500 firm
  • The Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation for compliance and client care standards

Contact a business disputes solicitor today

Our specialist business dispute solicitors based in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton, are ready to discuss your case. Call a member of our team on 0800 652 8025 or get in touch online.

Your key contacts

John Flint


John Flint is a Partner in Clarke Willmott’s commercial & private client litigation team specialising in director, shareholder and partnership disputes.
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Meet the wider business disputes team

With seven offices throughout England and Wales, Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with a local presence. Click to learn more about our wider team of legal professionals and how they can support you.

Meet the team

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