Business Structures in 2007: An eventful year in review — issues for you and your clients to consider

Two cases during 2007 aptly illustrated the need for joint venturers to carefully document their relationship — in particular, whether fiduciary duties apply between the parties as they would in a partnership.

In Farah v Say-Dee, the High Court appeared to assume that fiduciary duties applied to the relationship — despite the parties having agreed that it was a joint venture.

In ASIC v Citigroup, the Victorian Supreme Court confirmed that parties can expressly 'contract out' of fiduciary duties — including in documents such as joint venture agreements.

These cases remind practitioners that they cannot rely on the assumption that fiduciary duties do not apply to joint venturers — even so, express contractual terms can address the issues adequately.

For a more detailed summary of the cases and the differences between partnerships and joint ventures, see our full article here.