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The Indian Partnership Act

Types of Partners

A partnership is when two or more people work together and share the profits from the business or profession. However, one must not always assume that all partners participate in the work or profits or even liabilities of the firm equally. In fact, there are various types of partners based on the extent of their liability, or their participation in the firm – like an active partner or dormant partner etc. Let us take a look.

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Types of Partners

Here we will look at six types of partners we come across on a regular basis. This list is not exhaustive, the Partnership Act does not restrict any unique kind of partnership that the partners want to define for themselves. Let us take a look at some of the important types of partners.

Active Partner

1] Active Partner/Managing Partner

An active partner is also known as Ostensible Partner. As the name suggests he takes active participation in the firm and the running of the business. He carries on the daily business on behalf of all the partners. This means he acts as an agent of all the other partners on a day to day basis and with regards to all ordinary business of the firm.

Hence when an active partner wishes to retire from the firm he must give a public notice about the same. This will absolve him of the acts done by other partners after his retirement. Unless he gives a public notice he will be liable for all acts even after his retirement.

2] Dormant/Sleeping Partner

This is a partner that does not participate in the daily functioning of the partnership firm, i.e. he does not take an active part in the daily activities of the firm. He is however bound by the action of all the other partners.

He will continue to share the profits and losses of the firm and even bring in his share of capital like any other partner. If such a dormant partner retires he need not give a public notice of the same.

3] Nominal Partner

This is a partner that does not have any real or significant interest in the partnership. So, in essence, he is only lending his name to the partnership. He will not make any capital contributions to the firm, and so he will not have a share in the profits either. But the nominal partner will be liable to outsiders and third parties for acts done by any other partners.

4] Partner by Estoppel

If a person holds out to another that he is a partner of the firm, either by his words, actions or conduct then such a partner cannot deny that he is not a partner. This basically means that even though such a person is not a partner he has represented himself as such, and so he becomes partner by estoppel or partner by holding out.

5] Partner in Profits Only

This partner will only share the profits of the firm, he will not be liable for any liabilities. Even when dealing with third parties he will be liable for all acts of profit only, he will share none of the liabilities.

6] Minor Partner

A minor cannot be a partner of a firm according to the Contract Act. However, a partner can be admitted to the benefits of a partnership if all partner gives their consent for the same. He will share profits of the firm but his liability for the losses will be limited to his share in the firm.

Such a minor partner on attaining majority (becoming 18 years of age) has six months to decide if he wishes to become a partner of the firm. He must then declare his decision via a public notice. So whether he continues as a partner or decides to retire, in both cases he will have to issue a public notice.

Solved Example on Types of Partners

Q: A was a minor admitted to the benefits of a partnership. After attaining majority he decided not to continue as a partner. He did not give any public notice of the same. Is he liable for the acts of other partners after his retirement?

Ans: Yes, A will now be liable for all acts of other partners even after his retirement. This is because he fails to give a public notice of his desire to not continue with the firm after attaining majority.

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