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How is conveyancing different in Scotland?

In Scotland, the majority of property law solicitors/conveyancers also act as estate agents. So a Scottish solicitor will also act in both the marketing process and the legal process of buying/selling a property. This practice is very rare in England and Wales.

But this isn’t the only difference between the Scottish Conveyancing process and the conveyancing process in England and Wales. The basics are the same, but property law in Scotland does use a different law system (Scots Law).

So how is Conveyancing different in Scotland?

Legally Binding

In England and Wales the sale doesn’t become legally binding until the end of the Conveyancing process, once the contracts are exchanged. The Seller can accept multiple offers and even start contract races between buyers.

However, in Scotland, once an offer is accepted by the seller, it is legally binding. The seller can’t accept multiple offers.

So in Scotland the contract is concluded at a much earlier stage, at the start of the conveyancing process. As a result, property surveys are completed before any offers are made.

The Contract

The Scottish contract is normally formed by missives. A missive usually refers an old-school style of hand-written letter.

In Scottish conveyancing, Missives are like letters that contain the proposed sale contract details. Missives will be sent back and forth between the sellers and buyers solicitors to negotiate terms, one missive at a time until both sides are happy.

Once both sides are happy and all the contractual terms are agreed, the missives are concluded. These missives then serve as a binding contract for the sale of the property.


As the sale becomes a binding contract at a relatively early stage of the process, there are some extra conditions in place to protect the buyer before the sale is completed.

These conditions will be to prove that the seller actually owns property and that nothing unexpected turns up in the local property searches.

Advantages and Disadvantages

In Scottish conveyancing the sale is legal binding early on, once the offer is agreed, that’s it, the seller can’t accept any late offers. This is a big advantage to buyer but maybe a disadvantage to sellers (see Gazumping).

Also, the buyer will have to pay for the survey before making any offers. So it can be very costly if the bid is unsuccessful.

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