Counsel Corner

October 20, 2011

Payment for family receipt/deed of assignment?

By Dayo Benson
I bought a piece of land in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State from a family. The value is over a million naira. I paid in three instalments after which I was issued a receipt by one of the family members. The receipt given to me was that of his company, so I requested for the family receipt since he dealt with me on behalf of the family.

It was quiet a surprise when he told me that I had to pay N50,000 (fifty thousand naira) to get the family receipt. The money, he said, would be shared among family member including the head. I grudgingly parted with the amount after unsuccessful attempts to meet with the head of the family.

After collecting the receipt, I told some of the members at a meeting that I intend to bring a deed of assignment which my lawyer would prepare for them to sign. They informed me that getting them to sign the document would cost me additional N150,000.00 (One hundred and fifty thousand naira). I flared up and mouthed some curses as I stormed out of the meeting. I want to know, do I have to pay to collect a receipt for a piece of land I paid for?

Second, do I also have to pay before they would sign the deed of assignment?


– Ahmed, Lagos.


For any transaction of that nature to be valid in law, there must be a family receipt issued to the buyer after payment for the land is made. The receipt is a proof that the buyer has paid in consideration and exchange for the piece of land. It should be noted that a receipt does not automatically confer legal ownership, but it is part of documents the buyer will rely on to prove ownership where there is a dispute since the land in question is a family land, the family receipt is very important. Such receipt is expected to be issued by the head of the family with the signature or thumb print of at least two members. A receipt is not paid for by the buyer. Rather, the seller owes the buyer an obligation of being issued a receipt.

If the term of the contract requires the buyer to pay, he ought to have been informed at the beginning of negotiation and the cost must be factored into the value of the land. In the same vein, for the sale to be legally binding on the parties, a properly executed deed of assignment is mandatory. It is the requirement of the law that every land transaction must be backed by a deed. Either of the parties can get his lawyer to prepare the deed. But it is usually in the interest of the buyer’s lawyer to do it. The presumption is that the buyer’s interest will be well protected if his lawyer prepares the deed.

However, the seller is required by law to duly execute a deed of assignment to the buyer. In this case, the head of the family and the principal members owe you an obligation to sign the document. If there is anything to be paid, it is to your lawyer. Please insist on your right.