Real estate—United Kingdom - England & Wales—Q&A guide
Real estate—United Kingdom - England & Wales—Q&A guide

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

  • Real estate—United Kingdom - England & Wales—Q&A guide
  • 1. How would you explain your jurisdiction’s legal system to an investor?
  • 2. Does your jurisdiction have a system for registration or recording of ownership, leasehold and security interests in real estate? Must interests be registered or recorded?
  • 3. What are the legal requirements for registration or recording conveyances, leases and real estate security interests?
  • 4. What are the requirements for non-resident entities and individuals to own or lease real estate in your jurisdiction? What other factors should a foreign investor take into account in considering an investment in your jurisdiction?
  • 5. If a non-resident invests in a property in your jurisdiction, are there exchange control issues?
  • 6. What types of liability does an owner or tenant of, or a lender on, real estate face? Is there a standard of strict liability and can there be liability to subsequent owners and tenants including foreclosing lenders? What about tort liability?
  • 7. How can owners protect themselves from liability and what types of insurance can they obtain?
  • 8. How is the governing law of a transaction involving properties in two jurisdictions chosen? What are the conflict of laws rules in your jurisdiction? Are contractual choice of law provisions enforceable?
  • 9. Which courts or other tribunals have subject-matter jurisdiction over real estate disputes? Which parties must be joined to a claim before it can proceed? What is required for out-of-jurisdiction service? Must a party be qualified to do business in your jurisdiction to enforce remedies in your jurisdiction?
  • More...

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to real estate in United Kingdom - England & Wales published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: September 2020).

Authors: Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP—Patrick Williams; Jons F. Lehmann; Devina Rana

1. How would you explain your jurisdiction’s legal system to an investor?

England and Wales have a common law legal system. Investing in England and Wales is highly favoured given its system of compulsory land registration and just legal system.

The laws governing real estate are predominantly statute based, and these are constantly developed through case law. International law is relevant to a limited extent (eg, matters concerning merger control are dealt with by international treaties that the UK is a part of). It is unclear how Brexit will impact this.

In England and Wales, land contracts need to be in writing, to incorporate all relevant terms of sale, and to be signed by both seller and buyer. Oral contracts for the sale of land are usually unenforceable.

Contracts for land are ‘exchanged’, with the legal transfer of ownership taking place on completion of either a deed of transfer or grant of a lease.

2. Does your jurisdiction have a system for registration or recording of ownership, leasehold and security interests in real estate? Must interests be registered or recorded?

The Land

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