Establish what is legally binding and what is not as soon as possible. It is possible for parties to create a contract by exchange of letters alone. To avoid this happening, ensure that all correspondence involving joint venture negotiations is marked ‘subject to contract’ until the final documentation is ready to be signed.
Do not start operating the joint venture until you have final, signed documentation. If you do so, you could be deemed to have entered into a contract with your joint venture partner on terms that only a court case will be able to unravel.
Establish who is going to pay the professional advisers’ costs, whether or not the joint venture goes ahead.