Conveyancing Contracts: How Standard Is The Standard Contract For Sale?
Update: this blog has now been updated, and you can view it here.
Day 19: Everything You Need To Know About Buying and Selling a House or a Flat in 31 Daily Bite-Sized Chunks -"Conveyancing Contracts: How Standard is the Standard Contract for Sale"
We, Conveyancing Solicitors have been doing Conveyancing for a long time (some like me an awfully long time).
Conveyancing Solicitors have also relied on a standard contract for sale to make life for sellers and buyers as easy and as fair as possible.
And over time, a fair bit of tweaking to what are now called the Standard Conditions of Sale has taken place.
Until 2003, there were two “Standard Conditions of Sale” utilised by Conveyancers; one of which had reached its 24th Edition.
The different Contracts were merged so that all Conveyancers now use the Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale (although we are quickly up to the Fourth Edition).
And shock, horror a further manifestation to the Standard conditions will arrive in April; snappily entitled the 5th Edition
So common are these standard conditions that most solicitors when issuing a draft contract for sale to a prospective buyer’s solicitors, only refer to them by name, and do not reproduce the conditions in full.
The new Standard Conditions of Sale (5th Edition) will draw together best practice and is designed to be used as a new Protocol in conjunction with the new Law Society Conveyancing Quality Standard
The need for a written Contract for sale signed by all parties to the transaction is laid down in Statute.
There is no such thing as a verbal contract for sale of land. You may have heard phrase “a verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on” used in that context.
Some Conveyancing Solicitors such as Clutton Cox rely on the Standard Conditions almost exclusively, and will only add additional clauses which are specific to the circumstances of the sale.
The good news is that the new 5th Edition will prevent some Conveyancing Solicitors, rather annoyingly including clauses which are clearly not relevant to the transaction in order to keep to their own standardised version of the contract.
In the new 5th Edition that word "Chattels" will disappear and be replaced with the much more widely used term "Contents"
Other changes introduced will make responsiblity for inusring the property that of the buyer after exchange of contracts.
It is always rather tedious explaining to a client why the other side’s solicitors have included a clause which does not apply.
It goes without saying that if you have any questions relating to a standard or additional clause in a contract you should consult your Conveyancing Solicitor.