GP partnership disputes: Court of Appeal decision confirms the importance of up to date partnership agreements20/11/17
The Court of Appeal recently handed down its judgment in the case of Cheema v Jones  EWCA Civ 17, it concerned a dispute between partners in a GP practice.
This case highlights how important it is for GP practices to have clear and up to date agreements in place, especially when partnership disputes occur.
Summary of facts
Dr Jones and Dr Cheema were partners. They decided to expand the practice, taking on three new partners. No new partnership deed was completed and they deferred discussions on the details of a new agreement. A dispute arose between Dr Cheema and Dr Jones. This included Dr Cheema being prevented from seeing patients and in turn obtaining an injunction.
The Court of Appeal upheld the decision that a partnership at will had been created between the five GPs, which superseded the original partnership agreement. It could be terminated on notice by one partner.
How will this decision affect GPs?
In many cases, changes to a partnership may not be recorded formally with an updated partnership deed. The specific facts, such as conversations, correspondence and documents, in each case will determine whether, for example, the terms of the old agreement continues, new terms are agreed, or a partnership at will comes into being.
Uncertainty over the terms of the partnership can lead to significant additional cost and risk in the event of any dispute or a partner leaving.
How can Capsticks help
Capsticks is a market leader in the healthcare field with a dedicated GP team. We have extensive experience of assisting GPs with:
- completing and updating partnership agreements;
- resolving partnership disputes, with current and former partners;
- concluding landlord and tenant disputes, including where some partners own the practice premises or with third party landlords or tenants, service charge disputes, obtaining possession or undocumented occupation.
To see our infographic on 'Navigating the road to dispute resolution', please click here.
To find out more about our services for GPs, please visit our website or contact Daniel Kirk, Joanna Bower or Mark Jarvis.