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Contracts And Agreements

"A Guide To Missives”


The basis of all property transactions is set in a binding contract, otherwise known as the missives. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the deal is done when in fact the parties are still negotiating the deal. When negotiating either party can walk away. In the absence of any pre-contract deposit or agreement, neither party would hold liability. Yet when is the contract binding? This is an issue that you must really check with your lawyer. Do not make the assumption or take anyone’s word for it as contracts are slippery at best.

Avoiding the contract ! So you have a contract and one party is in breach (not sticking to the deal) or attempting to get out of a contract? Even after contracts are concluded many lawyers place conditions within the contract which allow their clients to withdraw without cost if specific conditions are not met. The most general conditions tend to be around the searches over the property, coal reports, debt and insolvency and in many cases if the property is badly damaged. Again we must stress that you check with your conveyancing lawyers as not every contract is the same.

Shakespeare’s Advocate - The final throw of the dice is when the creative lawyer uses a legal gray area in the contract. Highlighted in Shakespeare’s Shylock – Merchant of Venice. Unfortunately this approach being less cut and dry is more use full as a line of argument if the parties go to court to settle the deal. This, in our opinion is never a very equitable path and negotiation or mediation may prove a better remedy.

Court Action - Over the years very few people tend to seek court action to enforce domestic contracts. Given these facts and costs involved we always urge clients to check and double check that they have all in place. Funds, documents, bank details and always work with your lawyer to ensure that things happen when they need to. Secondly, sellers ensure that all documents are in place and you help progress all the questions put to your lawyers by the purchasers. If purchasing ensure that all your funding is in place and you have clear instructions from your bank and your valuer.

In all cases your lawyers work with you providing the expert advice and as such we urge you to call your conveyancing Lawyers if you have ANY legal questions.

AM I THE OWNER? - So you have sold or have bought a property, and you want to know if the deal is done. The Land Registers (both in England and Wales or Scotland) is a government body who hold a public register of who owns land and who holds a security over that land. But when do I own the land !!!

When your transaction (date of entry) has happened your lawyers shall submit to the Registers the deeds showing what changes have been made to the property, (owners, loans created or removed, shares in the ownership etc). The deeds and the application are date stamped and this secures your application at that date. Although the actual amendments cane take from a few weeks to several years your date in which the new owners (etc) change will start from the original date stamp when submitted.

For many owners this seems hard to accept and they expect written proof that they own the property within a few days. Unfortunately the time Registers take is their decision and their decision alone. Your lawyers merely submit the deeds and like you await Registers to do there work. As a government body they have no real complaint procedures or methods to speed matters up and as such there is no rule as to what is a priority.

Several factors will affect the registration process.

1. Has the property been registered before or is this a ‘First Registration’ ?

2. Is the property being split off from a larger area (split title or New Build)?

3. Is the title complex with many burden deeds, competing boundaries etc?

If you have any questions please call your lawyers or Registers but please note that once sent for Registration your lawyers has no control over the process.


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