A Practical Guide to Shareholder Disputes in Family Businesses


Ed Weeks


£49.99, Law Brief Publishing



Shareholder disputes in family businesses uniquely require the legal practitioner to pursue a commercial result in a business context pervaded by personal relationships. A pure family lawyer is unlikely to step into this area unguided. Remarkably, corporate lawyers do step in unguided – on occasion to their client’s cost.

This guide, however, provides for any practitioner a short and clear exposition of the main legal principles, the approach of the courts, and of the practical considerations involved in resolving such disputes. It does not pretend to equate to an expert legal textbook, but rather informs the reader in clearly written short chapters of the fundamentals, reserving its focus on the areas which cause difficulty in practice.

It is particularly good in its references to reported cases, not just as authorities, but as illustrations of typical disputes and the issues that arise, and of how they can be dealt with by the parties and the court. It helps that the facts of these disputes often involve a story worth telling.  

The author considers the key considerations for advising shareholders, both when they are the majority and when they are the minority (the tactics very often differ). Moreover, he considers the options for resolution by ADR – an essential in this area where trials can become heated due to the breakdown in personal relationships. The damage both to the business and family in question can become irreparable.

This book will particularly benefit the general commercial practitioner who finds himself faced with a family shareholder dispute. Although recourse to specialist advice will in due course probably become advisable, this book will assist in safely and effectively navigating the opening stages of the matter and in deciding when or if to take that advice. It would also be an excellent introduction for a lawyer joining a practice specialising in such disputes.


Andrew Clutterbuck QC is a barrister at 4 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London