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  6. In a residential conveyancing transaction, should contract papers be returned to the seller if the transaction does not proceed?

In a residential conveyancing transaction, should contract papers be returned to the seller if the transaction does not proceed?

I am acting for a buyer in a residential conveyancing transaction. In the contract package, the seller’s solicitor states he ‘expects such papers to be returned to his firm on request if the transaction does not proceed to exchange.’ Is this correct?

Yes, this has been included in the covering letter in case the transaction is aborted.

A draft contract along with the other papers supplied by the seller's solicitor to the buyer's solicitor in the contract package belong to the seller until contracts are exchanged. If the transaction is aborted before exchange takes place, the buyer's solicitor should comply with a request for return of those papers made by the seller's solicitor. This is notwithstanding any contrary instructions issued by the buyer to his own solicitor.

For the avoidance of doubt, we suggest that the seller's solicitor indicates in his covering letter to the buyer's solicitor that he expects such papers to be returned to him on request if the transaction does not proceed to exchange, just as your seller's solicitor has done.

For more information, see the Law Societys Conveyancing Handbook (23rd edition) available from the Law Society's online bookshop.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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