top of page

Partner by Holding Out

Partner by Holding Out
Partner by Holding Out


Partnership by holding out, also known as "partnership by estoppel," is a legal concept under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932. It refers to a situation where a person, by their conduct or statements, represents themselves as a partner in a firm, thereby inducing others to believe and act upon that belief. This concept ensures that individuals who misrepresent themselves as partners cannot later deny such representation to escape liability. 

Definition and Scope

Section 28 of the Indian Partnership Act, 1932, deals with partnership by holding out. It states that any person who, by words spoken or written or by conduct, represents themselves or knowingly permits themselves to be represented as a partner in a firm, is liable as a partner to anyone who has given credit to the firm based on such representation. The essence of this provision is to prevent fraud and protect third parties who act on the belief that the represented person is a partner.

Essential Elements

For partnership by holding out to be established, the following elements must be present:

  1. Representation: There must be a clear representation, either by words or conduct, that the person is a partner in the firm.

  2. Reliance: A third party must rely on this representation and act upon it, such as by extending credit to the firm.

  3. Consent: The person being held out as a partner must either have made the representation themselves or knowingly permitted it to be made.

National Bank of India Ltd. v. Sohanlal

In the landmark case of National Bank of India Ltd. v. Sohanlal, the court held that if a person by their conduct or representations leads another to believe that they are a partner in a firm and the latter, acting on this belief, gives credit to the firm, the person who made the representation cannot deny the partnership and must be liable as a partner. This case highlights the principle that the law protects third parties who rely on representations made to them in good faith.

Ram Kumar v. S. A. Jaffar and Ors.

In Ram Kumar v. S. A. Jaffar and Ors., the court emphasized that mere passive acquiescence does not amount to holding out. There must be an active representation or a knowing consent to being represented as a partner. In this case, the court found that the alleged partner had not actively represented themselves as such, nor had they knowingly allowed others to make such representations, thus ruling out liability under Section 28.



Liability to Third Parties

Partnership by holding out primarily serves to protect third parties who have acted on the belief that a person is a partner in a firm. Such third parties can hold the represented partner liable for the debts and obligations of the firm. This principle ensures that individuals cannot escape liability after having induced others to act to their detriment based on false representations.

Internal Relations

While holding out primarily affects the relationship between the represented partner and third parties, it can also impact the internal dynamics of the firm. The firm may need to address issues of trust and responsibility if one of its members is found to have misrepresented the partnership status of another individual.

Partnership by holding out is a significant concept under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932, designed to protect third parties from fraudulent representations. By holding individuals accountable for their representations, the law ensures that business transactions are conducted with integrity and trust. The doctrine indicates the importance of clear and honest communication in business relationships and provides a legal remedy for those misled by false representations. 


3 views0 comments


bottom of page