EFFECT OF NON-REGISTRATION OF PARTNERSHIP FIRMS

Indian Partnership Act

Section “69 Effect of non-registration-

(1) No suit to enforce a right arising from a contract or conferred by this Act shall be instituted in any Court by or on behalf of any person suing as a partner in a firm against the firm or any person alleged to be or to have been a partner in the firm unless the firm is registered and the person suing is or has been shown in the Register of Firms as a partner in the firm.

(2) No suit to enforce a right arising from a contract shall be instituted in any Court by or on behalf of a firm against any third party unless the firm is registered and the persons suing are or have been shown in the Register of Firms as partners in the firm.

(3) The provisions of subsections (1) and (2) shall apply also to a claim of set-off or other proceeding to enforce a right arising from a contract, but shall not affect – (a) the enforcement of any right to sue for the dissolution of a firm or for accounts of a dissolved firm, or any right or power to realise the property of a dissolved firm, or (b) the powers of an official assignee, receiver or Court under the Presidency-towns Insolvency Act, 1909, or the Provincial Insolvency Act, 1909, to realise the property of an, insolvent partner.

Under Section 69(1), a suit, inter alia to enforce right arising from a contract cannot be filed by a person Suing as a partner in a firm against the other partners of the firm unless the firms registered. Under sub-section (3) any other proceeding to enforce a right a arising from a contract by a person suing as a partner against the other partners of an unregistered Firm is also barred. Since the right to resort to arbitration flows from the contract between the parties contained in the partnership deed, a suit or any other proceeding by a partner to enforce this term in the contract against the other partners would, therefore, normally be barred under the first part of sub- section (3) of Section 69. (Vide Jagdish Chandra Gupta v. Kajaria Traders (India) Ltd. [AIR 1964 SC 1882 infra]). Subsection (3) in its later part, however, carves out certain exceptions to the bar contained in sub-sections (1), (2) and the first part of sub section(3).

Under sub-section (3)(a) this bar will not affect the enforcement of any right to sue for the dissolution of a firm or for accounts of a dissolved firm or any right or power to realise the property of a dissolved firm.

Therefore, although the partnership firm may be unregistered, one partner can sue other partners for dissolution of the firm and for accounts. The words “to sue” used in sub-section (3)(a) cannot be construed narrowly to refer only to suits for dissolution of partnership and accounts. The exception contained in sub-section (3)(a) applies not merely to sub-sections (1) and (2) but also to the first part of sub-section (3) which deals with proceedings other than suits. Therefore, in order that subsection (3)(a) would apply to all these provisions, the words “to sue” section (3)(a) must be understood as applying to any proceedings for dissolution of partnership or for accounts of a dissolved firm or to realise the property OF a dissolved firm. This proceeding may be either by way of a suit or it can even be a proceeding under the Arbitration Act to secure these rights through arbitration. [Vide Prem Lata (Smt)] & Anr. v. M/s IsharDass Chaman&Ors. (1995 2 SCC 145), a judgment to which one of us was a party.] Therefore, an arbitration clause in a partnership deed of an unregistered partnership can be enforced for the purpose of securing, inter alia, a dissolution and accounts of the partnership or for enforcing any right or power for obtaining the property of a dissolved firm.

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