• Publication Date: April 27, 2015
  • EAN: 9781760020194
  • 272 pages; 6" x 8⅝"

Seddon on Deeds


Product Description

This is the first Australian text on the law of deeds. Until now, practitioners have had to use Norton A Treatise on Deeds, an English text of 1928. Seddon on Deeds comprehensively sets out the law applicable to the use of deeds by lawyers, referring, so far as possible, to Australian cases, and covering the 20th century Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation that modifies the ancient common law rules.

The book examines in Chapter 1 the pros and cons of using deeds. There are many ways that deeds can be defective. Chapter 2 sets out the law on execution of deeds for all types of legal entities. Chapter 3 examines the elusive concept of delivery and the use of escrows. Chapter 4 analyses the legal consequences of altering a deed, either inadvertently or by agreement. The 400 year old troublesome rule in Pigot’s Case still applies in all jurisdictions except for New South Wales. Chapter 5 considers issues of interpretation of deeds, a particularly important topic when using a settlement deed. Chapter 6 examines enforcement and remedies. Enforcement concentrates on the “who” question: who can enforce and who is bound? Remedies focus on the “how” question. Chapter 7 covers the various ways that a deed is discharged.

Seddon on Deeds provides important insights for practitioners on the hazards that can be encountered in using deeds and sets out how to ensure that a deed is legally sound and how to avoid trouble.

Foreword by The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

1. The Use of Deeds
2. Execution
3. Delivery and Escrow
4. Alteration and Variation
5. Interpretation
6. Enforcement and Remedies
7. Discharge


Deeds can be a tricky area, with various hidden traps where formalities are unclear or confusing (or just not realised). The Australian law on deeds looks to be pretty similar to the law of England and Wales, so this book is a very useful item for practitioners in England and Wales. When faced with tricky points on deeds, this book is a valuable resource to look for Australian guidance on the various issues. … Seddon on Deeds aims comprehensively to set out the law applicable to the use of deeds by lawyers, referring, so far as possible, to Australian cases, and covering the 20th century Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation that modifies the ancient common law rules. Seddon on Deeds provides important insights for practitioners on the hazards that can be encountered in using deeds and sets out how to ensure that a deed is legally sound and how to avoid trouble. Read review… – David Pollard, Trust Law International, July 2016

‘“Get a life” responded some of my friends when I said I had embarked on a legal text on deeds.’ In good humour, this is how the Preface to Seddon on Deeds begins. However, textbooks dealing with this topic are few in number and well worn. Seddon on Deeds is, therefore, a welcome addition. It is clear, concise, as well as being well written and organised. Read full review… – Dan Butler, Hearsay, June 2016, 75

The worth of this golden tome far exceeds its surprisingly minimal weight. It is even more surprising that the first edition of Seddon on Deeds is arguably the only such exploration of its subject matter since Norton’s A Treatise on Deeds was published in 1928. Seddon’s work is both practitioner-focused and insightful, blending a matter-of-fact discussion of principles with items of historical interest and observations about trends in the development of the law. Read full review… – Kellin Kristofferson, Ethos, ACT Law Society, September 2015

Any lawyer dealing with conveying land or becoming involved with commercial transactions concerning the transfer of property will from time to time encounter questions as to whether the transaction was needed to be carried out by deed, and, if so, whether it was properly done. Up to now, one looked for authority from the seminal English book, Norton on Deeds (2nd ed, 1928) and Ch 10 of Lewison on the Construction of Contracts, plus works like Laws of Australia and the Australian Digest. Professor Seddon has now written a short Australian book which not only deals with the traditional authorities, but also notes a considerable number of local cases dealing with the form or construction of deeds. The subject is in one sense not an easy book to produce for the whole of Australia. Unfortunately, while the basic stipulations as to the form of a deed are common throughout the land, there are subtle differences as to the required form from State to State. The author has, however, dealt with this problem with clarity. The format of the book differs from the English books. While there is a chapter on interpretation, the basic focus is on formal matters such as when a deed is required, what is meant by “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”, the effect of altering a deed, remedies available to enforce a deed and discharge. Topics that need to be discussed are discussed in detail. One is whether execution of a deed imports delivery. I remember this point well as I argued it successfully in Hooker Industrial Developments v Trustees of the Christian Brothers [1977] 2 NSWLR 109, a case with others on the point thoroughly discussed by Seddon. There is little of the dramatic or controversial in this book. However, it is a great boon to the profession that it is available and will make research for those with problems in this area so much easier to conduct. – Peter W Young AO, Australian Law Journal, October 2015

The publication of a modern monograph on deeds is long overdue given that the most recent edition of Norton on Deeds circulated in 1928. The warning issued in the Forward contributed by Michael Kirby is that “Every lawyer who uses the magic formula “signed, sealed and delivered” (or their modern equivalents) needs to pause to reflect on the legal history that has endured for a millennium”. The text is a salutary reminder that there are many hazards in the use of a deed because of the many things that can go wrong when compared to using a contract. For this reason practitioners will gain insight to the appropriate usage of deeds and not merely use them because “lawyers love deeds”. One example of this risk is explored in the chapter on enforcement and remedies where the recent Queensland Court of Appeal case of 400 George Street (Qld) Pty Ltd v BG International Ltd [2012] 2 Qd R 302 is considered. That risk is that, as a general proposition, when a party to an inter partes deed executes and delivers the deed to the other party, the first party is immediately bound (absent some defence or other legal excuse) and cannot withdraw. Professor Seddon has produced a practitioner’s text that assists in ensuring that a deed is correctly put together, executed and delivered in accordance with the common law and the legislative requirements. It is a worthy addition to any practitioner’s library. – Queensland Law Reporter – 18 September 2015 – [2015] 36 QLR

Nicholas Seddon, a senior academic at the ANU, has written what will be the definitive concise Australian and possibly Anglo-Australian book on deeds. Inside the cover on the endpapers is a deed of indenture signed by the author’s ancestor in 1793. This book will deservedly find its way into judgments and on to many shelves as the gold standard of concise books on deeds. Read full review… – Paul Latimer, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, August 2015

The writing is crisp, clear, propositional. The book has, as a consequence, brevity without loss of comprehensiveness and lucidity. The argument is in the text, with the footnotes being useful but not intrusive. The index is thoughtfully constructed and also useful. In areas of difficulty or controversy, the competing lines are discussed, authority critiqued and difficulties discussed with respectful rigour, and a reasoned conclusion and preference posited. The quotations at the start of each chapter are apposite and add verve. It should be clear that I like this book; if I had not been given a review copy I would have gone out and bought it. It will be of interest and use to academic and practitioner. It is overdue. If its theme of law reform is taken up, then any subsequent edition may require a new start and the ‘1st and only’ edition will gain added value from becoming a collectors’ item! Read full review… – Gregory Burton SC, Bar News, NSW Bar Association, Winter 2015

*Phillip Taylor MBE from Richmond Green Chambers, London UK, reviews the book on YouTube channel – Click here to watch… – Uploaded July 2015

When exactly do you need a deed? Is a deed better than a contract? Or is a contract better than a deed? Published by The Federation Press, this scholarly, yet down-to earth and very practical volume tackles these questions head on. Specifically it is about the law of deeds in Australia and therefore international and comparative lawyers will almost certainly want to have a look at it, especially as Australia is such an important common law jurisdiction in the Pacific. The author Nicholas Seddon’s insightful commentary and the not infrequent references to the common law in the matter of deeds does much to enhance the lawyer’s understanding of what a deed is, why you should use it and why you shouldn’t. Seddon has obviously aimed to provide a rational, factual and therefore unsentimental look at, or re-examination of deeds, based on a formidable amount of research and supported by frequent reference to case studies throughout. Also helpful are the tables of cases and statutes and the handy index at the back. If you deal with deeds or plan to, you more than probably should read this book. Read full review… – Phillip Taylor MBE, Richmond Green Chambers, June 2015

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