Criminal liability of partnerships

[Project now completed] 

Patrick Layden, QC, TD

Team members
Alastair Smith, Project Manager
Andrew Blain, Legal Assistant

As part of our Eighth Programme of Law Reform, we conducted a short-term project on criminal liability of partnerships.

Following a fire in a nursing home run by a partnership, the partnership was dissolved, and attempts to indict the dissolved partnership, and/or the members of it, in relation to the causes of the fire failed. It is clear that the traditional concepts of the law of partnership do not fit easily into the modern regulatory structure within which many of these organisations operate.

While we and the Law Commission for England and Wales recommended reform of the general law of partnership in our joint Report on Partnership Law (Scot Law Com No 192), published in 2003, we did not focus particularly on criminal liability. We have now considered that topic with particular emphasis on preventing the avoidance of such liability by the dissolution of the partnership.

We published our Discussion Paper on Criminal Liability of Partnerships (DP 150) in May 2011.  Our final Report (Scot Law Com No 224), with accompanying draft Bill, was published in December 2011. 

The Report has now been implemented: see the Partnerships (Prosecution) (Scotland) Act 2013 (c 21).


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