Bills of Sale are of two kinds, namely, absolute and conditional. They must be registered at the Bills of Sale Registry at the Law Courts, London, within seven days after they have been signed, or received in England if signed abroad, and re-registered, if remaining in force, before the expiration of every period of five years.

A record of a Bill of Sale is supplied to the County Court of a district, if the Bill of Sale is given by anyone therein stated to be residing in the district of that County Court, or if the Bill of Sale comprises goods in that district. The register of Bills of Sale can be inspected on payment of one shilling, and a copy can be obtained on payment of sixpence for every seventy-two words. Some particulars of all registered Bills of Sale appear in the weekly publication called Stubbs’ Gazette and other trade papers circulated amongst wholesale merchants and others, so that Bills of Sale given by tradesmen, and others, are likely to injure their credit.

An absolute Bill of Sale is used for an assignment on the sale of furniture or goods, which are not immediately delivered to the purchaser, but remain for the time being in the possession or custody of the vendor. It is sometimes an inventory of the goods sold, with a receipt for the purchase money at the foot.

The signature of a person giving an absolute Bill of Sale must be witnessed by a solicitor, and the true name and address of the former must appear on the document, and the goods must be accurately described.


If made to secure a sum of less than £30, the conditional Bill of Sale will be void. The consideration must be truly stated, that is to say, whether it is the amount of a debt already owing by the borrower, or the amount advanced at the time when the Bill of Sale was given, or made up of various items or sums already owing, and present advances, or sums paid to third persons, such as creditors of the borrower. If a sum for expenses is retained out of the amount stated to be lent, the consideration is not truly set out, which may make the Bill of Sale void.

The Conditional Bill of Sale must furnish the full name and address of the borrower ; his trade or occupation should be inserted. The signature of the borrower to the document must be witnessed, though not necessarily by a solicitor as required for an Absolute Bill of Sale.

A schedule (I.e., inventory) of all articles to be included in the security must be written on the Bill of Sale (I.e., at the end of it) or attached thereto, but property to be after-acquired cannot be included, except fixtures or plant substituted for similar fixtures or plant which were included in the schedule.


The good included in any Bill of Sale are liable to be distrained for rent, rates, or taxes at any time becoming due from the borrower in respect of the house, or other premises, where the goods are. A properly prepared hire-purchase agreement is not a Bill of Sale, and, therefore, does not require to be registered as such.


A Conditional Bill of Sale must be in the form prescribed by the Bill of Sales Act, 1882. It is advisable not to vary that form, otherwise the document may be void, but clauses as to insurance against fire, and other matters, may be added.


In the event of the lender exercising his power to take possession of the goods included in the security, he must not remove them from the borrower’s premises, or sell them, until five clear days after taking possession.


A Conditional Bill of Sale, which is the form generally used, is a document to secure, by a charge on the furniture or other goods, the repayment of a loan or debt, with interest. Frequently the principal is made payable by periodical instalments. The goods remain in the possession of the borrower, unless the lender takes possession under any of the powers conferred on him by the Bills of Sale Act, 1882, namely : (a) If the borrower makes default in payment of any sum secured, at the time fixed, or in performance of any agreement by him in the Bill of Sale necessary to maintain the security. (b) If he becomes a bankrupt, or suffers the goods to be distrained for rent, rates, or taxes. (c) If he fraudulently removes any of the goods, or suffers them to be removed from the premises. (d) If he will not produce his last receipts for rent, rates or taxes. (e) If execution has been levied on the goods.