Harnum v. Green

In Contracts, Fish Cases, Fisheries Practice on (Updated )

This case involved a fishing enterprise type partnership where one partner continued to carry on the enterprise after the break up of the partnership. This appeal concerned the following issues:

(1) Whether the trial judge erred in law in determining that the value of the assets, for the purpose of sharing between the partners, is the value at the time of distribution and sale of the assets rather than the estimated value as at dissolution;

(2) Whether the trial judge erred in determining the share of post-1999 income of the partnership payable to the departing partner on the basis of the estimates, without admitting the income tax returns of the partner who continued the business; and

(3) Whether the trial judge erred in ordering that the licences and the boat be sold.

With respect to item one (time of valuation), the appeal court ruled that the time of the valuation would be the time at which the assets are distributed. As a result the departing partner retained the benefit of an increase in value of the assets.

With respect to item two (entitlement to post break up income), the court ruled that "[w]here a partnership has existed and has either been dissolved, or if there has not been a formal dissolution but a partner has ‘otherwise stopped being a partner’, without a final settlement of accounts as between the partners, and one or more partners continue to use the assets, name or business connections and earn income, that income must be accounted for to the partner or partners who have not continued to make use of the partnership assets, name or business connections" (para. 60).

In this case, the only real income producing assets were the fishing licences. Since the partner that continued to carry on the business deliberately obstructed the court’s ability to provide the other partner with an accounting, the court relied upon the unchallenged expert evidence of the departing partner regarding the the type of income that fishing enterprises of the same type normally earned during the relevant time period.

With respect to item three (order for sale of licence and vessel), since there was a true dissolution of the partnership, under the provisions of the Partnership Act, a partner is entitled to insist that the partnership property be sold to ascertain its true value.