What is partnership? What are its chief characteristics? Explain.
According to the Section 4 of the Partnership Act, 1932, partnership is an agreement between two or more persons who have agreed to share profits or losses of a business that will be carried by all or any one of them acting for all.
Person who joined their hands to set up the business are called ‘partners’ individually and ‘firm’ collectively and the name under which they carry out their business is termed as ‘firm name’.
Important Characteristics of Partnership
The following are the important characteristics of partnership.
1.Two or more persons: Partnership is an agreement between two or more persons coming together for a common goal. There should be at least two persons to form a partnership. Although as per the Partnership Act of 1932, there is no maximum limit on the number of partners in a partnership firm, but as per the Rule (10) of the Companies (Miscellaneous) Rules Act 2014, the maximum number of partners permissible is 50. Therefore, in case the number of partners exceeds the aforesaid limit, then the concerned partnership is considered to be illegal. In this regards it must be noted that Section 464 of Companies Act 2013, the maximum number of partners permissible is one humdred. However, it must be noted that the maximum number of partners is not limited in case an association or partnership is formed by professionals such as chartered accountants, lawyers, company secretaries, etc. These professionals are governed by their the special laws as formed by their respective professional institutions. Prior to the enforcement of Companies Act of 2013, the earlier act of 1956, imposed restrictions on the maximum number of partners to 10 in case of banking business and 20 in case of any other kind of business. However, with effect from April 01, 2014, Companies Act of 1956 has been replaced by Companies Act of 2013.
2.Partnership Deed: The partnership among the partners should be backed up by a partnership deed. A partnership deed is an agreement among the partners governing them in carrying out the proposed business. The deed may be oral or written.
3.Business: A partnership is formed to carry out a legal business. Partnerships in smuggling, black marketing etc. are illegal business activities and hence, the partnership is also illegal.
4. Sharing of profit: The profit or loss earned by a partnership firm must be distributed as per the partnership deed or equally among the partners (in absence of partnership deed). It is a very important feature of partnership. If a group is formed for charitable purpose, not to earn profit then this group will not be regarded as a partnership.
5.Liability: Liability of a partnership firm is unlimited and each partner is liable for firm’s liabilities whether individually and jointly with other partners to the third party. Moreover, each partner along with his/her co-partners is responsible for all the acts of the partnership firm.
6. Mutual agency: Partnership may be carried on by all or any one of them acting on behalf of all. It means all the partners of a firm are equally entitled to participate in the activities of the business or any one of them who is acting on behalf of all. Every partner acts as an agent for others and binds others by his/her act and in turn is bound by others by their act.
Note: In case of any question regarding the permissible limit on the maximum number of partners in a partnership firm, the students shall take the limit as 50.