Execution formalities—individuals
Execution formalities—individuals

The following Commercial practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Execution formalities—individuals
  • Capacity
  • Simple contracts
  • Deeds
  • Who can act as a witness
  • HM Land Registry requirements

Execution formalities—individuals

This Practice Note provides guidance on the proper execution of simple contracts and deeds for individuals. It covers issues of legal capacity, the form required for execution of documents by deed and the requirements for witnesses.


A valid contract may be made by any person recognised by law as having legal personality, which includes natural persons or individuals.

With reference to individuals, the following classes of persons are in law incompetent to contract or are only capable of contracting to a limited extent or in a particular manner:

  1. bankrupts

  2. minors

  3. persons of unsound mind

  4. alien enemies, and

  5. drunkards

Simple contracts

Although there is no general requirement that simple contracts be in writing, an individual with capacity can enter into a simple written contract by signing it provided that the basic requirements for the creation of a contract are satisfied. No witness is needed. To execute a simple contract as an individual simply state that the document is signed by the individual using their full name and leave a space for the signature.


Deeds are commonly used as a form of written agreement in the following circumstances:

  1. where no consideration can be provided

  2. instruments affecting certain dispositions of registered land

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