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Oral Partnership Agreements

It is important to get it in writing, especially when it comes to business ventures. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for a business partnership to exist without a writing saying so. If a court determines that a partnership exists, then this means that the partners owe each other a host of fiduciary duties. This can lead to a significant amount of unintended legal consequences and actual or potential liabilities.

In determining whether a partnership exists, a court can find that there is an oral partnership agreement or imply a partnership from the acts and conduct of the parties. Brotherton v. Kissinger, 550 S.W.2d 904, 907 (Mo. Ct. App. 1977). The intent of the parties is the primary criterion for determining whether a partnership exists. Id. Importantly, moreover, if the party claiming an oral partnership is able to establish a definite and specific agreement, then the oral agreement will stand without regard to the statute of frauds. Nesler v. Reed, 703 S.W.2d 520, 523 (Mo. Ct. App. 1985).

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