We look at the importance of incoming partners having the opportunity to review core business and financial documentation and the process for getting referrals for the new partner.
We will also discuss the due diligence you should carry out before making an offer.
A partnership agreement identifies the obligations, responsibilities and restrictions of partners at a practice.
Your partnership agreement is undoubtedly the most important document that should be provided to any incoming partner, as they will be required to sign up to it.
If no agreement is in place then, as an alternative, you should seriously consider the discussing the terms upon which you will work together, with a view to drawing up a formal agreement to document your working relationship.
Any incoming partner should be given the opportunity to review the last three years of the partnership’s accounts. This ensures that the new partner is aware of the partnership’s financial status, and what the likely returns would be.
Practice property documents
It is crucial that the incoming partner is aware of the practice’s premises arrangements. There are several things that they will want to know.
If the premises are leased:
- term (length) of the lease
- rent and other sums payable under the lease - and the extent to which they are reimbursable
- rent review provisions
- provisions for repair, maintenance and historic issues
- existence of break clauses (if any).
If the premises are owned and they are required to 'buy in':
- the share that they will be asked to acquire
- from whom they will acquire this share (ie from current or ex-partners)
- how the share will be valued
- the date by which they will be expected to complete the 'buy in'.
If the premises are owned and they are not required to 'buy in':
- the terms governing the practice’s occupation of the premises
- if there are no terms, what security the partnership would have when all property owners leave
- who is responsible for repairs and maintenance
- who the current owners are.
Unless a proposed new partner has worked with you before, you can never be entirely sure that they will fit in with your practice – both professionally and personally.
The risk that they won’t can be mitigated by obtaining a full employment and training history for them, along with supporting personal and professional references.
In doing so, some key things you may wish to consider before offering partnership to a new partner are:
- make it clear that any conditional offer of appointment is subject to satisfactory checks being obtained and verified
- clarify that any offer of appointment may be withdrawn if, at any time, it becomes clear that the proposed partner has withheld information, or has provided misleading or false information
- request a full employment or training history
- obtain an explanation of any gaps in employment or training
- asking for the details of individuals and/or other practices who can provide personal and/or professional references.