Enforceability of contracts for the transfer of land

The recent case of Herbert v Doyle and another [2010] EWCA Civ 1095 highlights the importance of properly documenting contracts to sell or transfer land. The parties in this case had orally agreed to transfer a number of car parking spaces between themselves. However, under section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (the “Act”), contracts for the sale or other disposition of an interest in land (save for certain exceptions) must:

  • be in writing;
  • contain all of the terms that the parties have expressly agreed in one document or where contracts are to be exchanged, in each document; and
  • be signed by, or on behalf of, each party.

If these requirements are not complied with, there is no contract. In this case, the transfer was void for not complying with the requirements of the Act (although the Court of Appeal held that there was a constructive trust).


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Jury O'Shea