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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48210
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I was a partner in a professional firm, with a written partnership

Customer Question

I was a partner in a professional firm, with a written partnership agreement allowing 6 months notice etc. I 'retired' as a partner at age 60 and agreed to stay on on the same basis as a consultant, but with no written agreement. A letter was sent to all relevant clients to this effect.
I have now been told, with no notice, that I am no longer wanted and the work for which I was responsible has been passed to someone else.
I remain on the firm's website as 'she heads up' various areas of the firm's work.
I would assume that there is an implied continuing agreement on the same basis as the original partnership agreement - ie I should receive 6 months notice.
The reason for me not being wanted is that my ex business partner is trying to sell the firm. I know that I am not entitled to a share of the sale, but as previous - should have 6 months notice or 6 months fees in lieu - your advice please!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. So just to confirm, you were no longer an official partner of the firm at the time of your termination?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

correct - I am currently termed a consultant as am still on their letter head as such and also described (as already mentioned) on their website as heading certain areas of their work/expertise.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
The fact that you had a written agreement before you moved to a consultant role does not necessarily mean that the same terms would apply now. To be able to rely on these terms you must be able to show that both you and the employer had intended for this to be the case and you were both under the understanding that this was what you wanted to happen. This may not necessarily be easy though and there is certainly no guaranteed way of showing that 6 months would be the notice that would apply here.

Nevertheless, as a self employed person you still have the right to a notice period. Whilst under law only employees are entitled to receive a minimum notice period in the event that their employment is terminated by their employer, whether a self employed worker is entitled to a notice period will generally depend on their contract.

However, it is often the case that no written contract exists, or there is no notice clause in it. In such situations, the worker can still expect a 'reasonable' notice period to have their employment terminated. This is because even in the absence of a written contract they will be working under an implied common law contract and to terminate such a contract a reasonable notice period is required. The only exception is if the contract was terminated because of gross misconduct, that is any misconduct serious enough to justify the employment relationship terminating immediately.

What is a reasonable notice period will vary greatly and will depend on the individual circumstances, industry practices, length of employment, frequency of payment, etc. There are far too many variables to consider, which means it is usually impossible to give a precise indication as to what would be reasonable in each case. It is therefore down to the courts to make that decision. You can nevertheless raise this issue with the employer and attempt to negotiate a reasonable notice period with them, a period that they will both be happy to accept, although as mentioned it does not automatically follow that you would still be entitled to the 6 month notice period that applied when you were a partner. That could be a starting point in your negotiations but it could easily be the case that if they refuse to accept that and you take them to court, that it would decide that the notice period was less than that. However, as mentioned that is impossible to predict at this stage and in the absence of a written agreement for the current position, only a court can decide what would be reasonable in the circumstances.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks Ben - I gave you 'excellent service' rating - thank you for your assistance

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Many thanks, all the best