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what is a deed (relating to the assignment of debt)


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Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (c. 34)


Deeds and their execution.



1.—(1) Any rule of law which—

  • (a) restricts the substances on which a deed may be written;

  • (b) requires a seal for the valid execution of an instrument as a deed by an individual; or

  • © requires authority by one person to another to deliver an instrument as a deed on his behalf to be given by deed,

is abolished.



(2) An instrument shall not be a deed unless—

  • (a) it makes it clear on its face that it is intended to be a deed by the person making it or, as the case may be, by the parties to it (whether by describing itself as a deed or expressing itself to be executed or signed as a deed or otherwise); and

  • (b) it is validly executed as a deed by that person or, as the case may be, one or more of those parties.

(3) An instrument is validly executed as a deed by an individual if, and only if—

  • (a) it is signed—
    • (i) by him in the presence of a witness who attests the signature; or

    • (ii) at his direction and in his presence and the presence of two witnesses who each attest the signature; and

  • (b) it is delivered as a deed by him or a person authorised to do so on his behalf.

(4) In subsections (2) and (3) above "sign", in relation to an instrument, includes making one's mark on the instrument and "signature" is to be construed accordingly.


(5) Where a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, or an agent or employee of a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, in the course of or in connection with a transaction involving the disposition or creation of an interest in land, purports to deliver an instrument as a deed on behalf of a party to the instrument, it shall be conclusively presumed in favour of a purchaser that he is authorised so to deliver the instrument.



(6) In subsection (5) above—

  • "disposition" and "purchaser" have the same meanings as in the [1925 c. 20.] Law of Property Act 1925; and

  • "interest in land" means any estate, interest or charge in or over land or in or over the proceeds of sale of land.

  • (7) Where an instrument under seal that constitutes a deed is required for the purposes of an Act passed before this section comes into force, this section shall have effect as to signing, sealing or delivery of an instrument by an individual in place of any provision of that Act as to signing, sealing or delivery.
    (8) The enactments mentioned in Schedule 1 to this Act (which in consequence of this section require amendments other than those provided by subsection (7) above) shall have effect with the amendments specified in that Schedule.
    (9) Nothing in subsection (1)(b), (2), (3), (7) or (8) above applies in relation to deeds required or authorised to be made under—
    • (a) the seal of the county palatine of Lancaster;

    • (b) the seal of the Duchy of Lancaster; or

    • © the seal of the Duchy of Cornwall.

    (10) The references in this section to the execution of a deed by an individual do not include execution by a corporation sole and the reference in subsection (7) above to signing, sealing or delivery by an individual does not include signing, sealing or delivery by such a corporation.


    (11) Nothing in this section applies in relation to instruments delivered as deeds before this section comes into force.

Tam Wing Chuen -v- Bank of Credit and Commerce Hong Kong Ltd [1996] 2 BCLC 69




Lord Mustill Commonwealth,


Lord Mustill discussed the need to construe a contract contra preferentem: "the basis of the contra proferentem principle is that the person who puts forward the wording of a proposed agreement may be assumed to have looked after his own interests, so that if words leave room for doubt about whether he is intended to have a particular benefit there is reason to suppose that he is not."

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