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Page updated - 06 December 2005

Solicitors Details:

Bates, Wells & Braithwaite. 27 Friars Street, Sudbury, Suffolk. CO10 2AD

Tel: (01787) 880440 Fax: (01787) 880488     Visit the Website     Email the Solicitors

Cornard News - These articles were first published in Cornard News

2004 Autumn

Issue 19

CONVEYANCING - The legal minefield?

You may think that nothing changes with the law from year to year but big changes are in progress for Residential Conveyancing and hopefully once fully implemented they will help to speed up and simplify the process. Here is a summary of some of the recent changes that might affect you:


Stamp Duty Land Tax

You will all have heard of Stamp Duty. It was a tax on documents relating to the transfer of land (amongst other things), which you only remembered at the last minute as you prepared the budget for your move. For residential transactions the rates are, below £60,000 – nil; £60,001 to £250,000 – 1%; £250,001 to £500,000 - 3%, and over £500,000 – 4%.

Now the tax is not on the document itself, but on chargeable land transactions, the rates are the same, but the tax is now Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). The rules have all been changed in small, but complicated ways, but worst of all it is a self assessed tax. You as the buyer are responsible for completion of the SDLT Return, and from an A4 single side there are now 6 pages in SDLT1, and three other potential forms to complete. All part of the Government's fight against Red Tape!

Your solicitors can help you with completion of the forms. The changes are all part of the Governments intention to introduce a fully electronic conveyancing system in the future, so at least the intention is good.

These changes came into force from 1 December 2003. The Inland Revenue are still updating us on the actual effects at the moment.


Land Registration Act 2002

In planning for electronic conveyancing it has been necessary to change the Land Registry arrangements. Once again all the forms have changed, the rules, and the governing Act, but for most people the biggest change they will notice at the moment is that they will, following purchase of a property, have no physical title document any more. The Land Registry will keep the title up to date, and it is the Land Registry title, kept electronically, that proves your ownership of property.

Do not be alarmed, if, when you complete your purchase all you receive from your solicitor is a Title Information Document, which is in fact just a copy of the information held at the Land Registry. They, incidentally, inform us that the Land Registry have all the usual back up systems, and records to ensure that if their systems go down the title information will still be there.


One Stop Electronic Search Requests

It is now possible through a national hub known as NLIS to access official search information held within government and other official sources of information.

Your solicitor will be able (via one of the government’s approved providers) to request all the searches needed in a purchase transaction electronically in one short visit to a website rather than physically filling in 5 or 6 separate application forms and then suffering delays whilst they are posted, processed, then posted back.

This is involving Local Authorities in considerable upgrading of their systems, but once in place response times should be improved considerably and searches will be requested and returned by email.

For better or worse electronic conveyancing is on its way.


Bates, Wells & Braithwaite.