The weird language of conveyancing

29 Apr 2015

Ever heard a lawyer mention 'disbursements', 'office copies', 'TT fee', 'fee earner', 'exchange of contracts', or 'completion'? Conveyancers hear these words all the time, but what do they mean?

Here's the answer:

disbursements = the charges of third parties who have to be paid as part of your property transactions (e.g VAT, stamp duty, Land Registry fee, conveyancing searches)

office copies = this is an out of date reference to what are now called official copies, which in turn simply means a Land Registry copy of your registered title

TT fee = telegraphic transfer fee (i.e the fee a bank will charge to allow your conveyancer to send money through the banking system – sometimes called a CHAPS transfer.)

fee earner = not the most flattering term, but a term nonetheless given by a law firm when it describes the lawyer carrying out your legal work.

exchange of contracts = the moment when buyer and seller agree that they are legally committed to the sale/purchase, and cannot back out without facing financial penalty.

completion = the moment (the big day) when the sale/purchase takes place.

These words are used as a substitute for the longer explanations, and have become common place among conveyancers, but true enough, they are not every day language, and quite understandably, the public can naturally be confused as to what they mean.