Involving a Judicial Scrivener in Real Estate Transactions

Role of a Judicial Scrivener in Japan

Transfer of property ownership is a legal process that is carried out on a settlement day (date the buyer pays the outstanding balance of the sales price to the seller). To ensure smooth handover of ownership, a judicial scrivener (shiho shoshi), certified by the Ministry of Justice, is typically present on the settlement day to verify successful completion of the transaction and registration procedures.  

It is not true that only judicial scriveners can prepare documents for registration applications. The website of the Ministry of Justice provides instructions on the registration procedures and provides all the necessary documents online. In some cases, it is possible to go to the Legal Affairs Bureau for consultation and assistance. If this is the case, why is a judicial scrivener needed for real estate transactions?

Consider why a judicial scrivener is necessary for a real estate transaction from the point of view of both the buyer and the seller. Say A, a buyer, signs a sales and purchase agreement with B, the seller, for a price of 100 million yen. A makes a deposit of 20 million yen to B upon signing of the agreement and is obligated to pay the outstanding 80 million yen at the time of final settlement. Neither A or B is likely to have peace of mind until A receives the title deed proving his ownership of the property and B confirms receipt of the outstanding 80 million yen.

The judicial scrivener checks all the documents required to transfer the registered name to the buyer. Once satisfied that all the paperwork is in order, the scrivener instructs the buyer to pay the seller the outstanding balance of the sales price. After confirming that the payment has been made, the judicial scrivener finalizes all the required documents to be filled with the Legal Affairs Bureau. If the title registration is not completed, the ownership of the property cannot be confirmed. The important role of the judicial scrivener is to facilitate and ensure smooth execution of the transaction to the satisfaction of both buyer and seller.

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