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Limited Liability Limited Partnerships

15 January, 2016 - 09:36

The progress toward achieving limited liability continues. Alimited liability limited partnership (LLLP, or triple LP) is the latest invention. It is a limited partnership that has invoked the LLLP provisions of its state partnership law by filing with a specified public official the appropriate documentation to become an LLLP. This form completely eliminates the automatic personal liability of the general partner for partnership obligations and, under most statutes, also eliminates the “control rule” liability exposure for all limited partners. It is noteworthy that California law does not allow for an LLLP to be formed in California; however, it does recognize LLLPs formed in other states. A “foreign” LLLP doing business in California must register with the secretary of state. As of February 2011, twenty-one states allow the formation of LLLPs.

The 2001 revision of the Uniform Limited Partnership Act (ULPA) provides this definition of an LLLP: “‘Limited liability limited partnership’…means a limited partnership whose certificate of limited partnership states that the limited partnership is a limited liability limited partnership.” 1 Section 404(c) gets to the point: “An obligation of a limited partnership incurred while the limited partnership is a limited liability limited partnership, whether arising in contract, tort, or otherwise, is solely the obligation of the limited partnership. A general partner is not personally liable, directly or indirectly, by way of contribution or otherwise, for such an obligation solely by reason of being or acting as a general partner. This subsection applies despite anything inconsistent in the partnership agreement that existed immediately before the consent required to become a limited liability limited partnership[.]” 2

In the discussion of limited partnerships, we noted that ULPA-2001 eliminates the “control rule” so that limited partners who exercise day-to-day control arenotthereby liable as general partners. Now, in the section quoted in the previous paragraph, the general partner’s liability for partnership obligations is vaporized too. (Of course, the general partner is liable for its, his, or her own torts.) The preface to ULPA-2001 explains, “In a limited liability limited partnership (‘LLLP’), no partner—whether general or limited—is liable on account of partner status for the limited partnership’s obligations. Both general and limited partners benefit from a full, status-based liability shield that is equivalent to the shield enjoyed by corporate shareholders, LLC members, and partners in an LLP.”

Presumably, most existing limited partnerships will switch over to LLLPs. The ULPA-2001 provides that “the Act makes LLLP status available through a simple statement in the certificate of limited partnership.”