Is my agreement a deed?

There are a number of different transactions or arrangements that require a deed be entered into, such as certain transactions relating to land. On those occasions, if you do not enter into a deed, it could affect the validity of the transaction.

However, when entering into a simple contract with another, you can choose whether such an agreement is executed as a deed or not.

A deed is a written instrument that must be executed in a certain manner in order to be legally binding. It requires certain formalities and can be contrasted with simple contracts under the law of England and Wales.

In brief, the formalities of a deed are as follows:

  • It must be in writing. There is no such thing as a verbal deed.
  • It must be clearly labelled as a deed.
  • It must be executed correctly. The execution requirements will change depending on the type of party entering into the deed.
  • The deed must be delivered, which is where a party to the deed makes clear that they intend to be bound by the deed.

Therefore, given the above formalities and the obvious nature of them, it should be clear if the agreement you have entered into is a deed.

There are a number of reasons why a deed might be preferred to a simple contract. Usually due to :

  • Reasons of authenticity (providing that the maker did enter into the agreement)
  • Showing adequate consideration (generally speaking, deeds are enforceable despite lack of consideration); or
  • Acquiring a longer limitation period (generally the limitation period for claims arising from a deed is 12 years from the cause of action as opposed to 6 years in a simple contract).

If you are unclear about the status of your agreement and you need to better understand where you stand in a dispute, please contact our commercial litigation team here.


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