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Deed in United Kingdom

Definition of Deed

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Deed :

A written document that must make it clear on its face that it is intended to be a deed and validly executed as a deed. Before 31 July 1990, all deeds required a seal in order to be validly executed, but this requirement was abolished by the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989. A deed executed since that date by an individual requires only that it must be signed by its maker in the presence of a witness, or at the maker’s direction and in the presence of two witnesses, and delivered. Deeds executed by companies require before delivery the signature of a director and secretary, or two directors, of the company; alternatively, if the company has a seal, the deed may be executed by affixing the company seal. If the deed is a contractual document, it is referred to as a specialty.

A promise contained in a deed is called a covenant and is binding even if not supported by *consideratio Covenants may be either express or implied. A deed normally takes effect on delivery; actual delivery constitutes handing it to the other party; constructive delivery involved (in strict theory) touching the seal with the finger, and saying words such as “I deliver this as my act and deed”. If a deed is delivered but is not to become operative until a future date or until some condition has been fulfilled, it is called an escrow. The recitals of a deed are those parts that merely declare facts and do not effect any of the substance of the transaction. They are usually inserted to explain the reason for the transaction.

The operative part of a deed is the part that actually effects the objects of the deed, as by transferring land. The testatum (or witnessing part) constitutes the opening words of the operative part, i.e. “Now this deed witnesseth as follows”. The premises are the words in the operative part that describe the parties and the transaction involved. The parcels are the words in the premises that describe the property involved. The testimonium is the concluding part, beginning “In witness whereof”, and containing the signatures of the parties and witnesses. The locus sigilli is the position indicated for placing the seal. When a deed refers to itself as “these presents”, “presents” means present statements. The advantage of a deed over an ordinary contract is that the limitation period is 12 rather than 6 years (See limitation of actions) and no *consideration is required for the deed to be enforceable.


Deed (in O. Eng. deâd, from the stem of the verb “to do”), that which is done, an act, doing; particularly, in law, a contract in writing, sealed and delivered by the party bound to the party intended to benefit. Contracts or obligations under seal are called in English law specialties, and down to 1869 they took precedence in payment over simple contracts, whether written or not. Writing, sealing and delivery are all essential to a deed.

The signature of the party charged is not material, and the deed is not void for want of a date. Delivery, it is held, may be complete without the actual handing over of the deed; it is sufficient if the act of sealing were accompanied by words or acts signifying that the deed was intended to be presently binding; and delivery to a third person for the use of the party benefited will be sufficient. On the other hand, the deed may be handed over to a third person as an escrow (An Anglo-French law term meaning a “scroll” or strip of parchment, cognate with the English “shred.” The modern French écroue is used for the entry of a name on a prison register), in which case it will not take effect as a deed until certain conditions are performed. Such conditional delivery may be inferred from the circumstances attending the transaction, although the conditions be not expressed in words.

A deed indented, or indenture (so called because written in counterparts on the same sheet of parchment, separated by cutting a wavy line between them so as to be identified by fitting the parts together), is between two or more parties who contract mutually. The actual indentation is not now necessary to an indenture. The deed-poll (with a polled or smooth-cut edge, not indented) is a deed in which one party binds himself without reference to any corresponding obligations undertaken by another party. See Contract. (1)

Deeds release fee in the Context of Mortgages

When you are selling the house, your solicitor will need to inspect the deeds. You will be charged a fee of between 25 – 45 for this.

Similar Terms

Equity release

Equity release

Equity release or home income schemes allow you to generate either a lump some or a regular income in return for allowing the lender to take ownership of a portion of your home. These are often used by people in later stages of life who have paid of all or most of their mortgage and who are looking to raise funds without borrowing money.


Notes and References

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)

See Also

Deed Poll

Further Reading

Law is our Passion

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Deed
  • Author: Agostino Von Hassell
  • Description: Definition of Deed In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Deed : A written document [...]

This entry was last updated: February 15, 2017



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