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Corporate structures

There are advantages and disadvantages in each of the methods of trading - limited company, partnership, and joint venture. What is best for you depends upon your personal situation and what you want to achieve.

The most common structure is a private limited company. As that confers limited liability on its members, the law imposes formalities regarding registration, accounting and auditing, and public disclosure of information.

The limited company must have at least one director. Please refer to our guide to Directors Duties and Responsibilities. If you are a foreign organisation, the establishment of a "branch" may be attractive. This enables you to conduct business through your local representatives, with no need for a separate legal entity to be established. Particulars of the foreign company must, however, be registered with the Registrar of Companies. This is a simple process.

If you wish to conduct business as a partnership, then it is important that a partnership agreement is prepared that sets out the rights and liabilities of the partners bearing it in mind that each partner is an agent of the others and can make contracts that bind the partnership.

Where a joint venture is your intention, this will normally be organised through a jointly owned company (or perhaps even as a partnership). A joint venture is not, in itself, regarded as a separate legal entity. Careful provisions are required to regulate the management of the company and to deal with any management disagreements that may arise. We can also advise you on the structure for ownership and leasing of aircraft.

Our guide to establishing a business in the UK gives more information.

Additional information