|The Jolly Contrarian’s Glossary |
The snippy guide to financial services lingo.™
A deed is a written legal agreement that has been signed and delivered and which is enforceable even in the absence of consideration. There are formal requirements for it to be executed. Deeds between two or more parties are called indentures. A unilateral deed is called a deed poll. Etymology corner: Originally, an indenture between more than one party had a physical “indentation” or “serration” along one edge of the document, whereas that pages of a deed signed by just one person were cut straight (or “polled”) — thus a “deed poll”.
Deeds are required by statute for some types of contract, including:
- Real estate: conveyances of land
- Security: mortgages.
- Powers of attorney: powers of attorney;
- Trusts: The appointment or discharge of a trustee;
- No consideration: At common law any legally binding agreement for which one party does not provide consideration.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered - I'm yours
Is a Stevie Wonder song which correctly, if figuratively, uses legal concept. More about that here.
When is a deed delivered?
Historically, delivery occurred when the document was received by the other side — a deed becomes enforceable once it has been shown to the other parties. As the law evolved, the concept of “delivery” became the point at which it could be shown that it was intended that the document would become binding. This is still the test used today.
- Bibby Financial Services Ltd v Magson  EWHC 2495
The legal community wags its prudish finger and admonishes the layperson about the timely warning this case represents that one must get one’s paper work right (subtext: make sure you call a lawyer). But on its face this is a poor decision. Clearly the directors' intentions in manscripting the changes and then executing the document evidences that they intended the documents to be binding. But ambulance chasing — or perhaps ambulance defending — members of the legal community see this as a good decision. Eheu.
- Law commission consultation on electronic execution has a good overview of the existing law relating to deeds.
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Stevie Wonder’s paean to legal formalities of deed execution
- Pop songs which use legal concepts