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A partenreederei (Plural: Partenreedereien) is a type of partnership under German and German-influenced maritime law for the joint ownership of a merchant vessel. Each partner, or partenreeder, functions as an equity partner, sharing proportionately in the proceeds, as well as the corporate debt of the business—this liability is not limited.[1] This form of ownership is related to the Dutch partenrederij system that ultimately gave rise to joint-stock companies,[2] and dates back to the Middle Ages.[3]

As a system of business organization, partenreederei was very common in the Baltic Sea and in England in the 1870s.[4]

German law[edit]

See also: Law of Germany

The persistence of partenreederei is one of several aspects of German maritime law that, according to Pokrant and Gran, has led to it being widely regarded as outdated and difficult to understand.[5] In 2013, changes to the German commercial code (handelsgesetzbuch or HGB), barred the creation of new partenreedereien. Those still existing at that time were not required to reorganize.[1]

Austrian law[edit]

See also: Law of Austria

After the fall of Nazi Germany, the Austrian legal system retained many influences from German law. One of these was the ability to form a partenreederei. On 1 January 2007, the Trade Law Amendment Act (German: Handelsrechts-Änderungsgesetz) entered into force, preventing the formation of any more partenreedereien, but allowing those that existed previously to continue.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Johns, Max; Sturm, Christoph (2014). "The German KG System". In Schinas, Orestis; Grau, Carsten; Johns, Max. HSBA Handbook on Ship Finance. Heidelberg: Springer. p. 73. ISBN 978-3-662-43409-3. 
  2. Economou, Emmanouil M. L.; Kyriazis, Nicholas C. (30 September 2015). "The First Globalized Economy: Privateers, Joint-Stock Companies, Commerce and the Rise of the United Provinces". International Journal of Social Science Research. Las Vegas, Nevada: Macrothink Institute. 3 (2): 92. ISSN 2327-5510. doi:10.5296/ijssr.v3i2.7982.  open access publication - free to read
  3. Czerwenka, Beate (2012). "The Proposal for a Reform of German Maritime Law". In Basedow, Jürgen; Magnus, Ulrich; Wolfrum, Rudiger. The Hamburg Lectures on Maritime Affairs 2009 & 2010. Heidelberg: Springer. p. 57. ISBN 978-3-642-27418-3. 
  4. Becker, Bert (2010). "Coastal Shipping in East Asia in the Late Nineteenth Century". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. 50: 252. ISSN 1991-7295. JSTOR 23891206. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. Pokrant, Günther; Gran, Andreas (2016). "Höchstrichterliche Rechtsprechung zum Gütertransportrecht" [Highest Judicial Court on the Law of Transport of Goods]. Transport- und Logistikrecht [Transportation and Logistics Law] (in German). Cologne: RWS Verlag. p. 2. ISBN 9783814557755. doi:10.15375/9783814557755-003 – via De Gruyter. (Subscription required (help)).