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Partner dispute

Q: The arbitration clause in our partnership deed says that if partners fall out that 'such dispute, difference or question shall be referred to a single arbitrator to be agreed upon by the parties to the dispute...' Can just one partner start the process and is the arbitrator's decision binding on all partners?

A: Any partner can start the process and if this happens, all the partners are obliged to go through with the arbitration process.

The arbitrator’s decision will be binding on all the partners and can only be appealed on a point of law (not on an issue of fact) with the consent of the court.

It is important to appreciate the decision will determine whether an interpretation is right or wrong - and it is not the role of the arbitrator to seek to find middle ground by way of a consensus.

If a consensus is what is desired, mediation is by far the preferred option, not least as it is much less costly

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process where the disputants are helped by a neutral third party to resolve their problems together.

A mediator will not take sides or impose a decision, but once agreed, the parties can enter into an agreement creating a legally binding document.

Lynne Abbess

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