When the relation between all the partners of the firm comes to an end, this is called dissolution of the firm. Section 39 of the Indian Partnership Act, provides that “the dissolution of the partnership between all the partners of a firm is called the dissolution of a firm.” It implies the complete break down of the relation of partnership between all the partners.
Dissolution of partnership is different from the dissolution of firm. Dissolution of a partnership firm merely involves a change in the relation of partners; whereas the dissolution of firm amounts to a complete closure of the business. When any of the partners dies, retires or become insolvent but if the remaining partners still agree to continue the business of the partnership firm, then it is dissolution of partnership not the dissolution of firm. Dissolution of partnership changes the mutual relations of the partners. But in case of dissolution of firm, all the relations and the business of the firm comes to an end. On dissolution of the firm, the business of the firm ceases to exist since its affairs are would up by selling the assets and by paying the liabilities and discharging the claims of the partners. The dissolution of partnership among all partners of a firm is called dissolution of the firm.
Dissolution of a Partnership firm may be effected in the following ways:
- Dissolution without the intervention of the Court.
- Dissolution by Court.
Dissolution without the intervention of Court:-
- By Agreement (S.40):- A partnership firm can be dissolved any time with the consent of all the partners whether the partnership is at will or for a fixed duration. A partnership can be dissolved in accordance with the terms of the Partnership Deed or of the separate agreement.
- Compulsory Dissolution (Sec.41):- In case, any of the following events take place then it becomes compulsory for the firm to dissolute:
(i) Insolvency of Partners:- In case all the partners or all the partners except one become insolvent.
(ii) Unlawful Business:- In case the firm’s business become unlawful on the happening of a subsequent event. e.g. trading with alien country
- Dissolution on the happening of contingent event (S.42) A firm may be dissolved on the happening of any of the following contingent event:-
(i) Expiry of Fixed Period:- If the firm is constituted for fixed period, then the firm is dissolves automatically.
(ii) On achievement of specific task:- If the firm has been constituted for the achievement of specific task, on achievement of that task, firm ceases to exist, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
(iii) Death of Partner:- Death of any of the partner dissolves the partnership.
(iv) Insolvency of Partner:- in the absence of a contract to the contrary, the insolvency of any of the partner may dissolve the firm.the rule shall apply even though the partnership has been constituted for a fixed term and the term has not yet expired or has been constituted for particular ventureand the same has yet not been completed.
(v) Resignation of Partner:- Resignation by any of the partners dissolves the partnership
- Dissolution by notice (S.43):-In case of partnership at will, a partner can dissolve it by giving written notice of dissolution to other partners duly signed by him. Notice must be very clear and certain. A notice once given cannot be withdrawn without the consent of other partners. In those cases where a partner has given notice of dissolution at a time when dissolution will give him some advantage over the other partners, he may be held in the firm till the pending transactions are completed.
Dissolution by Court:-
The court may order for the dissolution of the firm on the following grounds:-
(i) Insanity of Partner:- On the application of any of the partner, court may order for the dissolution of the firm if a partner has become of an unsound mind. Lunacy of a partner does not itself dissolve the partnership but it will be a ground for dissolution at the instance of other partners. It is not necessary that the lunacy should be permanent. In the case of a dormant partner the court may not order dissolution even on the ground of permanent insanity, except in special circumstances.
(ii) Incapacity of Partner:- If a partner has become permanent in capable of discharging his duties and obligations then court may order for the dissolution of firm on the application of any of the partner.where a partner is imprisoned for a long period of time the court may dissolve the partnership.
(iii) Misconduct of Partner:- If any partner other than partner suing is responsible for any loss to the firm, which amounts to misconduct and prejudicially affects the carrying on of business then the court may order for the dissolution of the firm.
(iv) Constant breach of agreement by partner:- The court may order for the dissolution of the firm if the partner other than the suing partner is found guilty for constant breach of agreement regarding the conduct of business or the management of the affairs of the firm and it becomes impossible to continue the business with such partner.
(v) Transfer of Interest:- When any of the partner other than the suing partner transfers whole of its share to the third party for permanently.
(vi) Continuous Losses:- The court may order for dissolution if the firm is continuously suffering losses and there is no more capital available for the future growth of the firm.
(vii) Just and Equitable:- The court may order for dissolution on any other ground which court think is just, fair and equitable. e.g. loss of total confidence between the partners.
 Banarsidas v. Kanshi Ram A.I.R. (1963) S.C. 1165
 Whitwell v. Arthur 1865 beva 140
 Havidatt singh v. Mukhe Singh A.I.R. 1973, J&K , 46
(This article is written by Nandita Bajpai, a student of Amity Law School, Lucknow)