What is a certificate of title?

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

  • What is a certificate of title?
  • Why are certificates of title used?
  • Standard forms of certificate of title
  • Are the standard forms compulsory?
  • Producing a certificate of title
  • Acting for recipients of certificates of title

What is a certificate of title?

A certificate of title (also known as a certificate on title) is a particular species of report on title.

When solicitors are instructed to investigate title to land (for instance, when land is being acquired or offered up as security), they will write a report on title for their client, which sets out the findings of the investigation. Those findings will include, for example, details of any rights of which the land has the benefit and any charges, easements or other third-party interests or potential interests that burden the land.

The process of title investigation is also known as legal due diligence. See Real estate in corporate transactions—overview for further information.

On occasions, solicitors will be instructed by their client to write a report on title for someone other than the client itself, for instance for a mortgage lender or a buyer of shares in a company that owns the land, or in connection with a company flotation or a tender transaction where there are a number of bidders.

Such a report addressed to a third party is usually termed a certificate of title. This is more formal terminology suitable for the more formal circumstances that give rise to the certificate.

There is usually no contract between the solicitors giving the certificate and the third-party recipient. However, if the givers of the certificate fail

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