The government have launched a consultation to consider possible reforms to partnership law that would allow prosecution of dissolved partnerships in respect of offences committed before the date of dissolution.

At present the law governing partnerships in Scotland allows a partnership to escape prosecution if it dissolves before criminal proceedings are served.  This happened most publically in the wake of the Rosepark Care Home fire in 2004 in which 14 residents died.

Following the fire an attempt was made to prosecute the three former partners of the firm that owned and operated the care home.  The proceedings were based upon health and safety legislation where offences are committed by the relevant employer.  The court ruled in that case that the individual partners were not the employer but rather the employer was the partnership which is a separate legal person.

A second attempt to prosecute was undertaken with the indictment served on the dissolved partnership.  This case also failed as the partnership simply ceased to exist at the date of dissolution so there was no legal person to prosecute.

Following these events The Scottish Law Commission prepared a report on the need to close this potential loophole and the matter has now been put out to consultation alongside questions about reforms that seek to reduce the liability exposure of members acting on behalf of voluntary associations.  The consultation opened on 17 April and runs until 2 July.  The paper can be found here - http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/files/ConDoc-Unincorporated-Associations-and-Partnerships.pdf