My colleague Edward Venmore looked at the case of Wild v Wild earlier in the year. It is a case where the High Court considered whether a farm and bungalow owned by Mr Wild prior to forming a farming partnership with his son constituted partnership property. In that case there was no written partnership agreement. The outcome was that the Court held the farm was not partnership property.
You may think it is bizarre for a partnership to be trading and not specifically know what are the assets of the business.
We are seeing all too often family farming partnerships coming to an end and one or more of the partners wanting to exit. At that point consideration has to be given to what are the assets of the farming partnership.
If an asset can be established as being owned by the partnership then its value will be brought into in the winding up account. If an asset is not a partnership asset and is personal property of one of the partners - then its value is not part of the account.
Establishing whether assets are partnership property can often be tricky to establish and that is because we routinely see partnerships with no written agreements or very old partnership agreements that have not been updated for a number of years.
Wild v Wild is a useful reminder of the importance of trying to avoid such problems arising. It is always sensible for farming families to be open and transparent with each other and to properly document agreements such as partnership agreements in writing to avoid the potential for debate at a later date.
There is no one factor which is conclusive in this case and I have considered the evidence as a whole. Having done that I conclude that the inclusion of the Farm as an asset in the partnership accounts was a decision taken by Ben Wild but not one taken on the basis of any discussion or agreement with the First Defendant. In those circumstances it is not open to me to infer an agreement or to imply a term that the Farm was brought into the partnership. Accordingly, I find that the Farm is not partnership property and remains the property of Jean Wild.