Introduction: Leasing: The accounting definition of a lease
Statement of Standard Accounting Practice 21 (‘SSAP 21’) defines a lease as
“a contract between a lessor and a lessee for the hire of a specific asset. The lessor retains ownership of the asset but conveys the right to the use of the asset to the lessee for an agreed period of time for the payment of specified rentals. The term ‘lease’ as used in this statement also applies to other arrangements in which one party retains ownership of an asset but conveys the right to the use of the asset to another party for an agreed period of time in return for specified payments.” (Paragraph 14 of SSAP 21)
International Accounting Standard 17 (‘IAS 17’) defines a lease as
“an agreement whereby the lessor conveys to the lessee in return for a payment or series of payments the right to use an asset for an agreed period of time.” (Paragraph 4 of IAS 17)
It is unlikely that there is any practical difference between the two, but in cases of doubt or difficulty you should seek advice from your local advisory accountant.