South Texas Law Review
Deed construction has been a perennial task for courts since the Statute of Uses accorded legal approval to written transfers of land in 1536. Unfortunately, two Texas cases, Luckel v. White and Jupiter Oil Co. v. Snow, may signal the rebirth of the dubious two-grant doctrine, which had seen its demise in Alford v. Krum. Under this theory, a multi-clause deed is construed as making separate grants of different types of interests in a particular tract of property or varying sizes of one interest at different times.
The ramifications of the holdings in Luckel and Jupiter Oil expose the inappropriateness of resurrecting the two-grant doctrine. Ultimately, the two-grant doctrine is an arbitrary rule that tends to frustrate rather than elucidate the parties’ intent in direct contravention of the consistent mandate that ascertaining intent is the primary goal of deed construction. At the earliest opportunity, the Texas Supreme Court should provide clarity by adopting the liberal Garrett v. Dils Co. approach and specific rules for harmonizing these deeds, and by expressly renouncing a rebirth of the two-grant doctrine.
Laura H. Burney, The Regrettable Rebirth of the Two-Grant Doctrine in Texas Deed Construction, 34 S. Tex. L. Rev. 73 (1993).