Partners/LLP members and their firms are in a very different legal relationship to employees and employers. Specialist legal advice and assistance is often needed on: interpreting the terms of their partnership/LLP agreements; advising on matters involving partner/LLP member appointments, exits, restrictive covenants, team moves; and issues associated with whistleblowing or unlawful discrimination.
Partners and LLP members are (to a greater or lesser extent) part-owners of, and co-venturers in, the business, rather than merely serving it. As a result, true partners and LLP members are not employees and do not have certain rights, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed. However, they do have some of the rights that are afforded to workers, such as the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of a protected characteristic (age or sex, for example) and rights associated with the protection of whistleblowers.
In some cases, people are held out to the external world as partners, but in reality they are salaried employees, with all associated employment rights. Hybrid arrangements such as fixed share or junior equity partners can further complicate the position.
Kingsley Napley has extensive experience in advising professional and financial services firms (including law and accountancy firms and fund managers) and their partners/members on partnership/LLP issues and in helping them navigate through what are invariably very sensitive and often complicated issues.
If you have any questions or require partnership advice, please call or email our partnership specialists.