Corporate & Commercial

Ferbrache & Farrell LLP’s corporate department offers full service corporate, banking and commercial cover and is able to advise on all aspects of Guernsey corporate and commercial law, including banking and finance, regulatory, investment funds, asset management and listings on The International Stock Exchange (TISE).

Latest Insight
22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…
Dispute Resolution

The dispute resolution department at Ferbrache & Farrell LLP has vast experience of local and international litigation and dispute resolution generally, gained from acting in complex local and international high-value disputes, both in Guernsey and throughout the world.

Latest Insight
22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…
Property

The Guernsey property department is dedicated to providing tailored solutions that meet and exceed clients’ expectations. In addition, the property department provides support to colleagues in the corporate and dispute resolution departments on real estate-related technical points of law.

Latest Insight
22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…
UK Real Estate

We are delighted to help in relation to providing legal advice for real estate in England and Wales. We listen. We learn what your needs are. We proactively respond. Whether it’s personal or commercial property, we always provide sound and pragmatic advice, adding value to the transaction.

Latest Insight
10 July 2024
News
In June 2024, The Law Society released the 5th edition of the TA6 Property Information Form. This updated form aligns with the National Trading Standards…
Private Client

Our services for private client matters include the drafting of realty and personalty wills, obtaining Grants of Probate, acting as professional executors and assisting foreign lawyers who have requirements in this jurisdiction.

Latest Insight
22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…

On the face of it, this might sound like a very simple question, and with an obvious answer. 

To a buyer, contents are things like carpets, curtains and white goods and are important to the use and enjoyment of a property. To a Guernsey conveyancer and our Treasury, contents are the trigger for a separate thought process.  Why is that?

In fact, it goes back to an old Ordonnance in 1852, and which is called the Ordonnance des Biens Meubles et Immeubles 1852

Most recently, contents play a very important part of the new Document Duty regime and which came into force on 15 November this year; more on that below.

The governing piece of secondary legislation of 1852 is still important today.  It made an important distinction between “immeubles”, literally translated as ‘immovables’ and what we consider as realty (being the land and things forming part of the land, such as pipes for services and buildings), and “meubles”.  That word translates as ‘movables’ or personalty, and (very) loosely equates to what most of us would consider as ‘contents’.  The Ordonnance treated meubles as those things which could be removed from one place to another, either of its own volition (e.g. a horse), or by physically being moved (e.g. a dress, or silver in those days).

Perhaps for exploring in depth in another article, in 1852 some things that we would now think of as contents, were in fact treated as forming part of the land itself, for they were so important to the home.  They included the kitchen table, the shutters on the windows, tools used in workshops and even the manure heap!  In 2017, a fitted kitchen might well be considered not as contents, but forming an integral part of the building and thus the land itself.

However, back to the point. At its simplest, no document duty is paid on the value of personalty.  Document Duty is actually levied on the value of realty. 

When an offer is made and accepted for the purchase of property, a Guernsey estate agent will prepare Conditions of Sale.  In those Conditions, there will be a split between the value of the realty (until recently generally 95% of the purchase price) and the value of personalty (the remaining 5%).

The new Document Duty regime now requires sellers and buyers to declare before the Royal Court (in the property Conveyance) that the value of the realty, and therefore the value of the contents, is correct. It is very important, since a false declaration may be construed as an attempt to avoid the payment of Document Duty, which is a criminal offence.

The starting point, since 15 November, is that contents are going to be treated as representing 2.5% of the property price.  If it is the case that the contents are worth more, then a buyer’s Document Duty bill will slightly reduce, but conversely, if the contents are worth less than 2.5% of the purchase price, then a buyer’s Document Duty obligation will increase.  Some Advocates may take the view that it is safest that no value is attributed to personalty, so their clients do not innocently and unwittingly make a false declaration.  As the process is relatively new, no doubt greater clarity in practice will emerge.

In conclusion then, what may seem like a straightforward question, is actually more complicated.