Friday, November 7, 2014

A Limited Partnership Must Be Represented By Counsel

A Limited Partnership Must Be Represented By Counsel


The rule that a corporation may appear in court only through a licensed attorney is undisputed. Recently, courts have applied the same rule to hold, inter alia, that a limited liability company, even a single-member limited liability company, may appear in court only through counsel. See Bobbett v. Russellville Mobile Park, LLC, No. 2007-CA-000684-DG (Ky. App. Sept. 12, 2008; modified Oct. 17, 2008); see also Rutledge, Regarding the Disregarded Entity, 14 J. Passthrough Entities, Mar./Apr., 2011, 39. 

It is the same rule applicable to limited partnerships? While it does not appear that a Kentucky court has addressed the issue, the consensus of decisions from other jurisdictions indicates that it is.

In Genoa National Bank v. Odette, 8:10CV438 (D. Neb. July 1, 2011), the court issued an order directing that a family limited partnership may only be represented by counsel, there collecting a number of cases in support thereof.

Likewise, in James D. Pauls, Ltd. v. Pauls, 633 F. Supp. 34 (S.D. Fla. 1986), the court wrote:

[S]imilarly, a limited partnership is not a natural person, but a creature of statute. Therefore, it must act to legal counsel in matters of law, since it is also an artificial entity.

In Runkle v. United States, 962 F. Supp. 1112 (N.D. Ind. 1997), it was held that a limited partnership must be represented by counsel in its effort to quash an IRS subpoena. See also United States v. The Bichard Farm Family Limited Partnership 2009 WL 1686729 (S.D. Ohio June 11, 2009) (discussing a limited partnership, the court wrote: “A partnership may not be represented pro se stop, but must be represented by a licensed attorney.”).

Perhaps the most comprehensive review of this question is set forth in Naylor Senior Citizens Housing, LP v. Sides Construction Co., Inc., 423 S.W.3d 238 (Mo. 2014), wherein it provided an expansive support for its holding that:
Limited partnerships, as statutory entities, may appear in the courts of this state only through an attorney licensed or admitted to practice here by this Court.


Thanks to Peter Mahler for the initial question.

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