The limited partnership review. Historical and comparative perspectives on the revival of a “commercial mongrel” in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom limited partnership can be described as the statutory equivalent of the South African partnership en commandite, which was received from French law via Roman-Dutch law. Proposed in 1838 and eventually introduced in 1907, the limited partnership has not proved as popular as its proponents would have wished for. In fact, it has been described as a “commercial mongrel” and as “dismal failure”, that was sunk “almost without trace” by the private company. Nevertheless, the limited partnership presently is a useful vehicle in the United Kingdom for investors who do not wish to take an active role in the management of their funds. It offers the investor privacy, as the accounts of the partnership are not generally disclosed. Like other partnerships, it also provides the benefit of fiscal transparency. On 13 September 2000 the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission released a comprehensive joint consultation paper envisaging a thorough review of the partnership law. Consequently, the Law Commissions completed a joint consultation paper on reforms of the Limited Partnership Act 1907 which was published in November 2001. In this contribution historical and comparative perspectives are given on the proposals contained in the second joint consultation paper.