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Jargon Buster Directory  

The Central Source for all Jargon

Legal - legal

Legal jargon is perhaps the one area of life that usually affects us all at some stage in our lives whether it be from buying a house to making a will.

Lawyers and Solicitors are masters at inventing and always using legal jargon often to hide responsibilities or what a document may really mean. They say legal jargon is required to be precise and to eliminate doubt but the plain English brigade confirm that most legal jargon can be quite adequately explained in other words or phrases more readily understood as plain English.

Many people caught out by the law or breaking terms and conditions for example are simply victims of this over used legal jargon. Most people reading a contract fail to fully read let alone understand a whole host of legal jargon text that is badly presented, small or over complicated.

You would be amazed at the onerous terms and conditions a clever lawyer or Solicitor can hide within a volumous swaith of A4 text with very few headings, broken paragraphs or readable pagenation. The term the devil is hidden in the detail comes directly from this legal jargon scam.


Legal Jargon

Bankruptcy Search: A search on behalf of the lending institution to ensure you are not bankrupt.

Charge: See Mortgage

Charge Certificate: See Land Certificate (below)

Completion Date: The moving date. The day you move out or move in.

Contract: The formal document which when signed and exchanged binds the seller and buyer to each other to complete the transfer of the property. It normally includes details of the price, the parties, description of the property and any other terms.

Conveyance: The document transferring ownership of unregistered land.

Co-Ownership:If more than one person buys a property then there has to be an agreement as to the percentage of ownership and what happens when either party dies unless the survivor of the co-owners is to take the property, the agreement is called a Declaration of Trust.

Covenants: Things the owner of a property must or must not do. Those the owner must do include repairs. See also Restrictive Covenant.

Declaration of Trust: See co-ownership

Deposit: The amount of money put down by a buyer on exchange of Contracts (usually 5% or 10% of the purchase price) as evidence of his good faith to proceed. This can be forfeited by the seller in certain circumstances if the buyer fails to complete.

Easements: Rights that your property enjoys over other properties or other properties enjoy over yours, eg rights of access.

Exchange of Contracts: The moment that the Contract becomes binding on both seller and buyer when both parties are bound to continue. Any withdrawal from the transaction after exchange is likely to impose a great expense on the party who withdraws.

Fixtures and Fittings Form: A questionnaire which indicates what items the seller at the property is taking and leaving, and sometimes what items he wishes to sell.

Index Map Search: A search to establish if the title to the property is a registered property or if it is unregistered at the Land Registry.

Joint Tenancy: (see Co-ownership)Where, on the death of a co-owner, the entire property will pass to the survivor(s)

Land Certificate: The Certificate supplied by the Land Registry proving ownership of a property registered at the Land Registry. If your property is subject to a charge or mortgage, a Charge Certificate is issued instead, which will be kept by your lender. See also Registered Land .

Land Registry: The Central and District government registries where details of registered titles are kept.

Land Registry Fee: A fee payable to the Government for registering you as the owner of the property at the Land Registry, and also for registering any other transactions related to Registered Land.

Land Registry Search: A search to establish that there are no additional entries on the Register of Title since the date of issue of an official copy.

Loan Agreement: See Mortgage Offer

Local Search: A search with the Local Authority to establish their views on such issues as roads, drains, planning and general development in the local area.

Mortgage A loan to help you buy a house, flat, or other property. Sometimes called a charge.

Mortgage Offer: The offer of a loan of finance to you by your lending institution. This becomes a Loan Agreement when the offer is accepted.

Office Copy entries: (Sometimes shortened to office copies) The official copy of a Land or Charge Certificate obtained from the Land Registry. Office Copies of individual documents can usually be obtained.

Property Information Form: A questionnaire to be completed by a seller to give details of matters which affect the property, eg, boundary ownership, disputes, guarantees, occupiers and planning.

Redemption Statement: Details of monies owed to your financial institution which will need to be repaid on completion of a sale or re-mortgage.

Registered Land: A title which is centrally filed at the Land Registry on which all details are kept of matters which affect the property including easements, charges, restrictive covenants and who owns the property. The Land Certificate or Charge Certificate are copies of information held by the Land Registry.

Restrictive Covenant: Restrictions imposed on a property effectively being things you are not allowed to do, eg, not alter the appearance of the property or build in the garden.

Stamp Duty: A Government Tax payable by the buyer, on moving if the price of the property exceeds a certain figure - currently £60,000.00.

Survey: A report carried out by a surveyor on the physical state of the property.

Tenancy in Common: Where on the death of the Co-Owner his/her share of the property passes by will or intestacy, see Co-Ownership.

Title Deeds: The documents which prove you own the property.

Transfer Deed: The document which formally transfers title on registration at the Land Registry from the seller to buyer.

Transfer of Equity: A sale or gift of one person's interest in the property to another, most commonly on divorce or separation where the family home is jointly owned property.

Unregistered Land: A title which is yet to be registered and for which there are a number of documents not yet sorted into a Land Registry file for which a Certificate of Title would be issued.

Completion Date

This is the date that ownership of the property passes from the seller to the buyer.

The seller and buyer should agree a suitable date between them and notify their solicitors. You should always bear in mind unforeseen delays i.e searches not returned on time. Only when contracts are exchanged and completion date is fixed can you virtually guarantee a completion date will be met. Therefore we advise that firm commitments to things like time off work or arranging removals should not be made until you have a fixed date.


This is the legally bidding agreement between the buying and selling parties. It sets out the main terms of what has been agreed such as property, price and names in the party. Two copies of the contract are drawn up and each party signs their own copy, meaning both parties do not have to meet up to sign one contract. When both parties are ready to commit the contracts will be exchanged and become legally biding


There is often confusion around the deposit with most people assuming it is the part of the price the buyer is putting down themselves (the difference between the mortgage amount and purchase price). Rather it is the amount of money handed over to the sellers’ solicitor upon exchange of contract.

This can be anything up to 10% of the selling price and should be negotiated in advance. You should be aware that if you pay a reduced deposit and fail to complete through no fault of the seller, you will be liable to make the deposit up to the full 10%. You could also be liable to pay further compensation to the seller through your failure to complete.


Disbursements are all the payments that solicitors make to other people on your behalf. These are standard costs and include local authority searches, official searches and stamp duty.

Exchange Contracts

This is probably one of the most important moments in the house buying process. The entire matter becomes legally binding, the seller must sell, and the buyer must buy, at the price stated on the contract. Before contracts are exchanged nothing is legally binding and either party can walk away at any time.

Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form

This is the list of what in the property is included in the sale. The form is completed by the seller and sent to all legal parties and a copy sent to the buyer so everyone knows exactly w3hqat is included in the sale.


Means you own both the property and the land the property stands on

Indemnity Contribution

Indemnity is taken out by all solicitors to cover losses to clients arising from errors or fraud in dealing with their matters

Land Registry

Established in 1925 it is a central body that retains records of who owns land and under what conditions.


Identifies a property that is of temporary ownership and stands on rented land. When the lease expires ownership of the property returns to the freeholder.

Legal Fee

This is the fixed cost that covers the time our legal experts spend on your conveyancing.

Local Authority Search

This is a list of questions about the property, which are sent to the local authority. It answers questions like, whether the council maintains the road serving the property, and what planning applications have there been against the property.

However it does not cover any planning applications made or in progress against nearby properties.


This is the loan to help you pay for your property. The lender will hold your deeds until you have paid off the mortgage or sold the property and paid of any outstanding monies.

Contracts will not be exchanged until solicitors have received written confirmation of the mortgage from the lender.

Mortgage Deed

The legal charge of the property to the mortgage lender until such time as the loan is repaid

Mortgage Fees

These are fees normally charged for acting on behalf of a new Bank or Building Society

Online Tracking

By using your personal online tracker you can follow the progress of your conveyancing 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Here is an example of what you might see once you have logged into your online tracker:

Progress Report For: Mr C. Brill and Miss L. Grossmith

S/o 28 Longfield Crescent Tadworth Surrey (Brill)

Status on Jun 05 2003

Date Sent Expected Chased Done

Client Instructions Received / Quotation Accepted Jan 23 2003

Welcome Pack Sent to Client Jan 28 2003

Terms Accepted by Client / Completed Forms Received Jan 31 2003 Feb 27 2003

Deeds Requested Mar 5 2003

Deeds Received Mar 15 2003 Mar 14 2003

Contract Documentation Sent to Buyer's Solicitor (see note below) Mar 18 2003

Contract Approved by Buyer Apr 1 2003 May 6 2003

Contract Sent to Client for Signature Mar 18 2003

Signed Contract Received from Client Mar 22 2003 Mar 27 2003

Completion Date Agreed May 27 2003

Contracts Exchanged

Signed Transfer Received

Sale Complete

Other Cases??

Click here to check the status of p/o 68 Chavecroft Terrace Epsom downs Surrey (Brill)

Property Information Form

This is a questionnaire about the property completed by the sellers. It covers such items as guaranties, neighbours disputes and boundaries.

As a buyer, if you have any specific queries about the property you should ask them now.

As a seller if there is a question you do not want to answer you must discuss it with your legal representative. Failure to disclose information could give the buyer grounds for legal action against you.


This is the final payment of a mortgage loan

Redemption Fee

A penalty that can be incurred for paying off a mortgage early

Stamp Duty

This is a tax paid by the buyer of a property valued at over £60,000. If the property you are buying is £60,001 - £250,000 stamp duty is charged at 1% of the purchase price. £250,001 - £500,000 at 3%, and above £500,000 at 4%.


This is a report into the physical state of the property you are looking to buy. Properties are "Sold as Seen" and it is up to you as the buyer to discover any physical defects through a survey.

If you are buying a property by means of a mortgage then you will be required to have a mortgage valuation undertaken. This is not a survey but satisfies the lender that the value of the loan is covered by the value of the property.

It is advised that you undertake a basic survey from a RICS qualified surveyor. This may identify any basic faults and for older properties a full structural survey is recommended. These surveys will cost you money so shop around, but it is highly recommended you take out the necessary surveys prior to exchanging contracts.

Title Deeds

These documents act as proof that the person selling the property owns it to sell. Secondly it sets out any rights or obligations that affect the property.

If selling time can be saved by obtaining your deeds as early as possible. Most people’s deeds are held by the bank or building society and they may charge you to release the deeds.

Transfer Deeds

This is the documentation required to show ownership of the property has changed from the seller to the buyer.

It is dated with the completion date and will be forwarded to the Land Registry after completion. The Land Registry require this to demonstrate that there is a new owner of the property.





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