How to Handle Contractual Infringements by Your Business Partner

After forming a business partnership, the parties often draft a formal partnership agreement. The main purpose of a partnership agreement is to detail each party’s rights and responsibilities and outline what will happen if one party breaches the agreement. A breach of a contract agreement is very difficult for all parties. Below, our Houston business law attorney outlines the steps to take after a contractual infringement by your business partner.

What is Included in a Partnership Agreement?

Forming a business partnership is about so much more than simply doing business together. It is also about establishing a contractual business relationship. The priorities and preferences of the parties involved guide the particular terms of a partnership agreement. The majority of contracts between business partners answer the following questions:

  • Which party or parties have financially contributed to the partnership, and how much were those contributions worth?
  • Which party or parties have agreed to make continuing financial contributions?
  • Is the partnership a limited partnership, a general partnership, or another form of partnership?
  • What are the legal rights and obligations of each partner?
  • How much compensation will each partner receive?
  • How will an infringement of a partnership agreement be resolved?
  • What are each of the partners’ fiduciary duties to the partnership?
  • Who has the right to vote, the obligation to vote, and when?
  • How can someone become a partner?

A properly drafted agreement with well-defined terms makes all the difference when an infringement occurs. Our Houston business law attorney can draft an agreement that will limit disputes and outline how to resolve them if they arise.

Why Do Contractual Infringements Arise?

A contractual infringement in a business partnership can happen for a number of reasons. The most common of these include:

  • Missing or ambiguous terms: When a contract is not properly drafted, it can cause confusion between the parties about their legal rights and obligations under the agreement. Missing or ambiguous terms can cause disputes to arise between partners.
  • Using company funds improperly: Infringements can arise when a partner spends company funds unscrupulously or improperly. This can affect not only the partnership but also the relationships between the partners and other associates and the business as a whole.
  • Acting without authority: Any time a partner acts without authority, it can cause issues in the business. For example, one partner may become excited about a potential business deal and sign the business up for it without obtaining the appropriate permission from the other partners.
  • Failing to recognize or address conflicts of interest: Conflicts of interest can happen when one partner is presented with an opportunity in which they will personally benefit. This alone does not necessarily create a conflict of interest, but it can be a red flag. Partners who fail to address possible conflicts of interest can breach their ethical obligations to the business.

When any of the above contractual infringements occur, there are a number of ways to resolve them.

Filing a Claim for Breach of Contract

If your partner has acted outside of the terms of the partnership agreement, you or the business may have to file a lawsuit against your partner for breach of contract. A breach of contract action can include allegations that your partner acted in bad faith. 

Under Texas law, all business partners are required to act in good faith. Business partners owe a duty of care to the company. Depending on the specific issue, you may also have to file a claim for a breach of fiduciary duties against your business partner.

Negotiating a Settlement

Not all lawsuits will end up in the courtroom. You and your partner may be able to negotiate a settlement agreement. In most cases, settlements occur while a lawsuit is pending, but there are exceptions to this. During negotiations, the parties will define what happened and the possible remedy that may be appropriate. As part of a settlement, the partners involved typically agree to keep the settlement amount and other arrangements confidential.

Expelling the Infringing Partner from the Business

Depending on the specific circumstances and the terms of the partnership, it may be possible to remove the infringing partner from the business. The applicable law and the terms within the contract, such as a buy-sell agreement, may determine if this option is available to you.

Pursuing Damages

The best option for remediating harm sustained by the business may be to pursue damages from the infringing partner. Again, the terms of the partnership agreement and the applicable law may define the amount of damages that are available. A business law attorney can help you maximize the damages you can pursue.

What Happens if You and Your Partner Do Not Have a Formal Agreement?

It is always recommended that business partners draft an agreement in the event that a dispute arises. However, not all partners draft these contracts when forming a partnership. If this is the case for you, there are still possible options under the Texas Business Organizations Code if your business partner has acted improperly. 

The Code provides options if you have a partial or incomplete agreement. Under Section 152.211(a), you can move forward if your partner has violated any duties under the partnership. To understand what these are, it is important to work with a Houston business law attorney who can advise you or your legal options.

Our Business Law Attorney in Houston Can Help After a Contract Infringement

For business owners, there is nothing more important than protecting your business, your investments, and your business relationships. At Integrity Law Group, PLLC, our Houston business law attorney has the ability to draft an agreement for you that will help you accomplish all of these tasks. 

If your partner has already infringed on a contract, we can advise you of your legal options and the next steps to take, as well. Call us now at (832) 280-9197 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with our experienced attorney and learn more about how we can help.

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