LA0702 - PROPERTY LAW AND PRACTICE

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SYNOPSIS OF MODULE

This module will be delivered on the General Practice Stage 1 route of the Legal Practice Course and is designed to reflect the type of conveyancing work dealt with by general practice.

The aim of this module is to facilitate the study of property law and practice in the context of realistic “case study” scenarios and, where possible, simulated clinical and experiential learning, to provide students with exposure to problem based learning and to develop students’ drafting, fact management and problem solving skills. The module will be structured to follow the chronological steps involved in residential and commercial freehold and leasehold conveyancing transactions with students acting for both buyer and seller in mock transactions designed to ensure that each student appreciates the next step in the procedure and acquires the skills necessary to achieve it, including understanding and completion of forms; corresponding with the other side; negotiating with the other side and the lender. Issues of professional practice will be dealt with throughout the module.

Following completion of this module students should be able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of property law and practice in the context of given factual scenarios, identifying both legal and professional conduct issues when they arise.

This module will also be the lead subject for the teaching and assessment of drafting. The teaching of drafting will be built into the main subject and delivered in the context of the same case studies both by way of discrete drafting sessions and as part of broader property law and practice sessions.

The module is delivered by a combination of large and small group sessions, and directed and independent learning.

The module will be assessed by examination. The skill of drafting will be assessed separately.

INDICATIVE READING LIST OR OTHER LEARNING RESOURCES

READING
Main text
Hewitson & Kenny: Property Law in Practice, Northumbria Law Press

Supplementary Reading
Abbey & Richards: A Practical Approach to Conveyancing, Oxford University Press
Silverman: The Law Society’s Conveyancing Handbook, The Law Society
Farrand & Clarke: Emmet and Farrand on Title, Sweet & Maxwell
Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents, Butterworths
Hewitson: Precedents for the Conveyancer, Sweet & Maxwell
Oyez Forms

E-LEARNING PORTAL:
A range of materials to support both large and small group sessions and to facilitate directed and independent learning will be provided via the e-Learning portal site.

OUTLINE SYLLABUS

PART 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Introduction to conveyancing
What is conveyancing? The two systems. An outline of a basic conveyancing transaction. Home Information Packs.
1.2 Essential background law
Legal estates, legal interests and equitable interests. Third party rights. Easements. Covenants. Trusts of land. Co-ownership. Mortgages. Leases.
1.3 Registered land
Registration of title. Classes of title. The form of the register. Third party rights. Adverse possession.
1.4 Professional conduct
Client care. Money laundering. Acting for more than one party. Confidentiality. Conflicts of interest. Contract races. Undertakings. Introductions and referrals. Dealing with non-solicitors.
1.5 Taxation
Capital Gains Tax. Value Added Tax. Stamp Duty Land Tax.

PART 2 PROCEDURE LEADING TO EXCHANGE
2.1 Taking instructions
Purpose of taking instructions. Matters on which instructions must be taken. Acting for the seller. Acting for the buyer. Sources and types of finance. Advising joint buyers. Fixtures and fittings. Surveys. Action following instructions.
2.2 Deduction of title
Time for deduction. The seller’s obligations. Methods of deducing title. Leaseholds. Requisitions on title.
2.3 Investigation of title
Reasons for investigating title. Investigating title in registered land. Investigating title in unregistered land. Raising requisitions.
2.4 The draft contract
The anatomy of a contract. Standard forms of contract. The particulars of sale. The conditions of sale. Standard Conditions of Sale. Standard Commercial Property Conditions. Matters commonly dealt with by special conditions. Void conditions. Auctions. Action after drafting the contract.
2.5 Planning and related matters
Town and country planning. Listed buildings and conservation areas. Restrictive covenants and planning. Building regulations. Environmental issues. Radon.
2.6 Searches and enquiries before contract
Who should make the searches and enquiries? National Land Information Service. Which searches should be carried out? Local land charges search. Enquiries of the local authority. Pre-contract enquiries of the seller. Water and drainage search. Land Charges department search. Company search. Index Map search. Environmental matters. Less usual searches. Inspection of the property. Analysing the results of searches.
2.7 The contract from the buyer’s point of view
The pre-contract package. Amending the contract. Restrictive covenants. The deposit. Insurance.
2.8 Mortgages
Terms and conditions of a mortgage offer. Instructions to act. Conflicts of interest.
2.9 Preparing to exchange
Matters to be checked. Reporting to the client. Signature of contract.
2.10 Exchange of contracts
Methods of exchange. Effect of exchange. Registration of the contract. Death and bankruptcy.

PART 3 EXCHANGE TO COMPLETION
3.1 The purchase deed
Form of the purchase deed. Drafting and approving the purchase deed. Execution.
3.2 Pre-completion searches
Who makes the searches? Reasons for making the searches. When to make the searches. Land Registry search. Land Charges Department search. Bankruptcy search. Company search. Inspection of the property. Results of searches. Priority periods.
3.3 Preparing for completion
Acting for the seller. Acting for the buyer. Mortgages. Completion statements. Completion checklist.

PART 4 COMPLETION AND POST COMPLETION
4.1 Completion
Purpose and effect of completion. Date, time and place of completion. Methods of completion. Lender’s requirements.
4.2 Post completion
Reporting to the client. Acting for the seller. Acting for the buyer. Undertakings. Land transaction return and SDLT. Registration of title.

PART 5 REMEDIES
5.1 Late completion
Breach of contract. Related transactions. Compensation for delay. Notice to complete.
5.2 Remedies
Breach of contract. Rescission. Misrepresentation. Misdescription. Non-disclosure. Specific performance. Return of deposit. Rectification. Covenants for title.

PART 6 SALES OF PART AND NEW PROPERTIES
6.1 Sales of part
Property description. Grant and reservation of easements. Imposition of new covenants. Mortgages. Purchase deed. Completion and post-completion.
6.2 New properties
Conveyancing procedures.

PART 7 LEASEHOLDS
7.1 Introduction to leasehold property
Advantages and disadvantages of leaseholds. Terminology. Liability on lease covenants. Commonhold.
7.2 The grant of a lease
Taking instructions. Drafting the lease. Drafting the contract. Title. Acting for the tenant. Apportionment of rent. Completion and post-completion.
7.3The assignment of a lease
Pre-contract matters. Landlord’s consent. Title. The purchase deed. Preparing for completion. Completion and post-completion.

PART 8 DRAFTING
The importance of the skill of legal drafting and being able to identify and apply some basic principles of good legal drafting. The construction of a legal document. The importance of contract law and its application to drafting commercial agreements. The identification of the main issues important to the client and incorporation of these into legal drafting. The link between legal drafting and negotiation. The importance of risk allocation in drafting. Proof reading documents for typographical, punctuation and grammatical errors. Understanding when to free draft and when to use a precedent. The use of precedents. The review, adoption and amendment of individual legal clauses in accordance with the client’s instructions. Analysis of clauses and explaining them to a lay person in plain English. Marking up and amending entire documents to meet the client’s requirements. Identifying, applying and explaining some of the more important boilerplate clauses, such as assignment, third party rights, entire agreement, notices, force majeure, waiver, variation and governing law and jurisdiction. The formalities for the execution of legal documents and the consequences of failing to follow these. Execution formalities for various types of entity: individuals, companies, partnerships, LLPs, attorneys and foreign companies.

AIMS OF MODULE

To prepare students for practice and to provide a general foundation for subsequent practice.

To provide a thorough understanding of the nature of commercial and residential property transactions.

To ensure students can identify and experience performing the relevant steps in commercial and residential property transactions.

To promote business and commercial awareness and a practical proactive approach to property transactions.

To develop skills of problem identification and resolution having regard to the client’s aims and objectives.

To promote recognition and understanding of professional conduct and client care implications at all stages of a property transaction.

To teach students the basic concepts and conventions of legal drafting, including drafting and amending legal documents, and making effective use of paper and electronic precedents.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

On completion of the module, students should, in the context of domestic or commercial transactions or both, and in relation to freehold and leasehold property:

• appreciate the nature of a property transaction

• be able to identify and perform the critical steps in a transaction

• be aware of conflicts of interest that may arise when acting for more than one party in a property transaction

• understand the requirements of lenders and the need to consider money laundering issues

• have a sufficient grasp of the tax aspects of a property transaction, including Stamp Duty Land Tax.

In particular:

Element 1: Pre-contract stage

Students should be able to:

1. take preliminary instructions and advise on client care

2. identify the steps needed to raise and the issues arising from pre-contract enquiries and pre-contract searches

3. deduce and investigate title as appropriate to the transaction

4. report on the transaction to the client

5. decide, with the client where appropriate, what action needs to be taken and identify what action (if any) the client has to take

6. analyse and draft a contract (and constituent clauses).

Element 2: Binding contract

Students should understand when the contract becomes binding and should appreciate the need to:

1. advise the client on the terms of any offer of finance and ensure that adequate finance is available before committing the buyer to the contract

2. select a method of making the contract binding appropriate to the transaction.

Element 3: After the contract becomes binding

After the contract becomes binding, students should be able to:

1. deal appropriately with the deposit, obtaining undertakings and insurances

2. prepare appropriate, clear and precise undertakings

3. draft document(s) (whether paper-based or electronic) necessary to transfer the legal estate

4. report on the title to the lender

5. prepare the mortgage documentation

6. prepare for completion and select a method appropriate to the transaction

7. carry out the completion and the relevant post-completion steps

8. complete the mortgage and protect the lender’s security

9. discharge any existing mortgage over the property.

Drafting

On completion of this module, students should:

1. understand the content and requirements of formal legal documents in the core practice areas

2. understand the principles of good drafting and editing

3. be able to explain their own and others’ drafting.


Element 1: Drafting and amending documents

Students should be able to draft and amend basic documents or provisions that:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the relevant legal, factual and procedural issues

2. meet all formal legal or other requirements

3. demonstrate a considered choice, use and adaptation of templates or precedents

4. are in prescribed or generally accepted form.


Element 2: Style of drafting and amending

Students should be able to draft and amend documents that:

1. use accurate, straightforward and modern language

2. use correct spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation

3. are easy to follow, internally consistent and free of ambiguity

4. use recitals, definitions and boilerplate correctly and appropriately

5. have a clear, logical, consistent and appropriate structure, layout and use of numbering and schedules.


Element 3: Explaining and editing

Students should be able to:

1. explain in clear and simple terms the meaning and effect of basic documents and the possible implications for the client

2. review and edit their own and others’ drafting to identify and correct omissions, errors and unnecessary provisions.

PREREQUISITES

NONE

COREQUISITES

NONE

DISTANCE LEARNING DELIVERY

N/A

LEARNING AND TEACHING STRATEGY

The module will be delivered through a combination of large and small group sessions, directed learning and independent learning.

The large group sessions will be delivered to the entire module cohort and will be used in part to introduce students to the major principles of each topic. They will place these principles in context by examining them against relevant factual scenarios. TurningPoint will be used to develop the students’ factual analysis and problem solving skills. The aims of the large group sessions will be to:

• Give an overview of the module area;
• To prioritise learning points within a topic;
• To explain, emphasise and demonstrate, with examples, substantive or procedural points within a particular transactional context;
• To focus on areas within the module that pose particular difficulties and require further explanation or examples;
• To encourage students to consider the module from a practical perspective as they will do later in their training contracts.

The small group sessions (which will consist of between 16 – 20 students), will, in conjunction with the directed and independent learning, expand on the material covered in the large group sessions with emphasis on the use of practical scenarios as the basis for relevant skills based and interactive sessions to apply that material to the scenario. The aims of the small group sessions will be to:

• Develop area introduced in large group sessions and in the small group session preparation;
• Develop problem-solving and other legal skills;
• Promote intellectual inquiry;
• Implement knowledge in a practical way to solve clients’ legal problems;
• Develop teamwork and both collective and individual presentational skills

Students will be given directed learning which will both expand on the materials provided in the large group sessions and cover specific topics not dealt with in those sessions. This will be supported by formative self test and multiple choice questions. Students will also be expected to carry out independent learning to both expand on the materials covered in the large group sessions and directed learning and to prepare for the tasks in the small group sessions. Examples of independent learning will include locating and reading relevant legal source material.

Experiential learning is prevalent in the simulated practice exercises that take place in most of the small group sessions.

ASSESSMENT STRATEGY

a Summative assessment and rationale for tasks

Summative assessment will be provided by an examination made up of a one hour closed book multiple choice/short answer paper (30% weighting) plus a three hour open book practical paper based on advance documents (70% weighting). The use of advance documents allows the subject team greater opportunity to test knowledge and application in the examination and allows greater use of realistic legal scenarios.

Summative assessment for drafting will be by way of a drafting exercise that will require the students to read through some case papers and instructions from their supervisor and to draft a specific document or documents relevant to the case study.

b. Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale

Formative assessment will be provided by a combination of self test questions and multiple choice questions which students will complete through the module e-learning portal site and in small group sessions. Students will also have the opportunity to sit a mock open book examination paper.

Formative assessment for drafting will be provided during small group sessions.

c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning

The multiple choice questions are undertaken in a small group session and feedback given during this session. Detailed answers to the self test questions will be available on the e-learning portal and feedback on the mock examination will be given via the e-learning portal and in a large group session.

Feedback on drafting will be given on an ongoing individual basis and as an integral part of small group sessions.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CHOICE

None

Course info

Credits 1

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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