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Longridge: 01772 783314 Garstang: 01995 602129 Lancaster: 01524 581306 Lytham: 01253 202452  
A property sales contract.
What is a deed? 
Traditionally, a deed was a document that was signed, sealed and delivered (although I’m not too sure that Stevie Wonder was singing about deeds…) however the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 amended the meaning of the word “deed”.  
Traditionally, deeds were sealed by a form of wafer or a printed circle but Section 1 of the 1989 Act swept this requirement aside. The misleading requirement of “delivery” does not mean that the deed has to be hand delivered upon a person for it to be binding rather it is the evidence of intention to be bound by the deed as in the case of Alan Estates Ltd v WG Stores Ltd [1982]. Such intention is easy to find because it is possible to execute a deed conditional on some event occurring, take the sale of a house, the Seller normally signs the transfer before completion of the purchase entrusting their Property Solicitor with the deed until the Buyer pays the purchase monies thus enabling the seller to be busy moving home at the time of completion whilst ensuring the buyer does not become the owner of the house until they have paid for it. Therefore, the deed is valid and cannot be revoked although it will never come into effect if the condition is not fulfilled, this is known as an “escrow”. On the other hand, if negotiations are still ongoing (such as price negotiations over a finding in the survey) there will be no intention to be bound by the contract at the time of signing and therefore no ”delivery”. 

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Does a Deed have to be witnessed? 

Yes – this became a requirement under the 1989 Act, Section 1 (3) sets out the prerequisites for signing a deed and states that a witness must be present at the time of signing. Although, a relatively new rule, it has long since been common for deeds to be witnessed. 

To go back to that question then of, what is a deed? 

Section 1(2) of the 1989 Act states that “an instrument will not be a deed unless…it makes it clear on the face of it that it is intended to be a deed …(whether by describing itself as a deed or expressing itself to be executed or signed as a deed or otherwise)” it is important to note that simply because a person goes to the trouble of having a document witnessed, it will not be considered a deed (HSBC Trust Company (UK) Ltd v Quinn) there must be something more to prove the intention of a formally binding document. 

Why are deeds important? 

A deed is essential for the transfer or creation of most legal interests in land. Fun fact: early law allowed transfer of land simply by giving possession this was known as “feoffment with livery of seisin” although this has long since been obsolete. 

What documents do I need after I buy a property? 

Deeds are often used as an umbrella term for all of the historical documents that come when you buy a house. Although the following documents are the important ones: 

Official Copies 

You won’t receive the updated official copies until the Land Registry have processed them and this can take months (even longer with a new build or first registration) Official Copies are a copy of all the information the Land Registry hold about the property, upon completion of your purchase your name will be recorded upon the Official Copies 


A copy of the Stamp Duty Return will be needed if you intend to claim back your stamp duty at a later date 

Copies of certificates, any indemnity policies, building regulations and planning permission 

These documents will be important should you have any issues with the council or building authorities with regards to work that has taken place at the property. These documents will also help speed the transaction up if you come to sell the property in the future. 

For help buying or selling your property, contact our Lancaster Solicitors now via or call 01995 602 129. 

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