History of Conveyancing

Essay by kiarahuUniversity, Bachelor's November 2004

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GPR 211

In English law, the art or science of conveying or effecting the transfer of property, or modifying interests in relation to property, by means of written documents.

In early legal systems the main element in the transfer of property was the change, generally accompanied by some public ceremony, in the actual physical possession: the ~~ function of documents, where used, being merely the preservation of evidence. Thus, in Great Britain in the feudal period, the common mode of conveying an immediate freehold was by feoffment with livert of seisina proceeding in which the transferee was publicly invested with the feudal possession or seisin, usually through the medium of some symbolic act performed in the presence of witnesses upon the land itself. A deed or charter of feoffment was commonly executed at the same time by way of record, but formed no essential part of the conveyance.

In the language of the old rule of the common law, the immediate freehold in corporeal hereditaments lay in livery, whereas reversions and remainders and all incorporeal hereditaments lay in grant, i.e. passed by the delivery of the deed of conveyance or grant without any further ceremony. The process by which this distinction was broken down and the present uniform system of private conveyancing by simple deed was established, constitutes a long chapter in English legal history.

The land of a feudal owner was subject to the risk of forfeiture for treason, and to military and other burdens. The common law did not allow him to dispose of it by will. By the law of mortmain religious houses were prohibited from acquiring it. The desire to escape from these burdens and limitations gave rise to the practice of making feoffments to the...