Court Rules in Ulrich Rued v Lloyd Dormer Partnership Dispute: Examining Good Faith and Transparency in Accounting Practices

Citation: [2023] EWHC 3118 (Ch)
Judgment on


The case of Ulrich Rued v Lloyd Dormer & Anor centers around a partnership dispute involving the development of land and the corresponding accounting for income, expenses, and profits of the partnership. The High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, unraveled the multifaceted aspects of the partnership, ranging from wages, overtime, commission, and capital contributions, to the veracity and legitimacy of the expenses claimed by the partners.

Key Facts

Ulrich Rued and Lloyd Dormer entered into a partnership in 1997 for land development, which involved the trading of parcels of land in Somerset. Rued provided cash funding, and in return, Dormer engaged in property development with agreed terms for financing, repayments, and profit-sharing. Disputes arose over the accounting practices within the partnership, as well as entitlements and reimbursements claimed by Dormer, both during and following the termination date of active partnership on November 30, 2016. A significant point of contention was the property known as Plot 9, the build costs, and the personal ownership transfer that occurred without Rued’s consent.

The judgment relied heavily on the principles of partnership law, specifically obligations of good faith and transparency that partners owe to one another, as codified in section 28 of the Partnership Act 1890. The judgment emphasized that a partner must not seek private advantage at the expense of the partnership and is bound to act best for the community of the firm.

Citing notable precedents like Medforth v Blake and Briganza v BP Shipping Ltd, the judgment clarified that breaches of good faith require a form of dishonesty or improper motive, and mere negligence is not sufficient to constitute such a breach. The court also resisted dealing with the efficiency of decisions made by partners, focusing instead on the rationale behind those decisions and whether they were made in good faith.

The court examined whether expenses claimed by Dormer were consistent with the terms of the partnership and the agreements in place regarding salaries, overtime, and commissions. It also scrutinized whether the expenses were for legitimate business purposes and not for the personal benefit of Dormer to the detriment of Rued.

The issues of occupation rent for Plot 9 and the appropriate retention amount were raised but not definitively settled within this judgment due to the lack of expert evidence and scope of the hearing.


The court made several findings adjusting the accounts to exclude certain claims for wages and overtime that were not sufficiently justified by Dormer. The judge found that some of Dormer’s practices, such as working while on holiday, did not warrant wages. Additionally, amounts that were identified as potentially private expenses were disallowed from the business expenses (adjustments posited by Mr. Dodge, the forensic accountant employed in the case).

The court accepted some of Dormer’s claims up to November 2016. However, post-November 2016, the evidence fell short in substantiating Dormer’s claims regarding the extent of his work on Plot 9 and, as such, his related wages were capped at the date of completion of construction. The court also restricted the expenses claimable after November 2016 and disallowed claims for work done by Mr. Dormer in concordance with Mrs. Dormer’s respective payments for bookkeeping duties.

The valuation of Plot 9 at £975,000 and the undeveloped land at £1,000,000 as determined by Mr. Forbes, the valuation expert, were accepted by the court.


The judgment in Ulrich Rued v Lloyd Dormer & Anor confirms and draws upon well-established partnership principles by examining the actions and motivations of a managing partner in the light of obligations such as fidelity of good faith and the avoidance of self-dealing. The case meticulously dissects the management of finances within the partnership, illustrating the court’s commitment to uphold the integrity of partnership agreements and the responsibilities inherent within such business relationships. Notably, the potential consequences for the properties and lands at the heart of the dispute, such as the sale or buyout, were set aside for further deliberations, indicating the necessity of ongoing negotiations or additional legal proceedings to resolve the matter fully.