St. Mary's Law Journal
Throughout the history of Texas jurisprudence, the Texas Supreme Court has often made clear and concise pronouncements that a rule of law was to apply in all cases that fell under the parameters of that rule, as well as exceptions to the application of these legal rules in situations where the application would perpetrate a fraud or would be inequitable. In several situations, Texas courts applied equitable principles to protect a subsequent purchaser in spite of the existence of a void deed in the chain of title. However, the court in Texas Department of Transportation v. A.P.I. Pipe & Supply, LLC did not acknowledge these equitable exceptions. Instead, it reiterated the rule of law that one cannot be an innocent purchaser if there is a void deed in the chain of title. This Article proposes legislation to clearly and unequivocally reinstate the equitable doctrine of the innocent purchaser for value in Texas jurisprudence. Furthermore, it is unclear from the A.P.I. court's opinion whether the mere existence of a void deed in one's chain of title is sufficient to charge one with notice of an adverse interest or whether one can be an innocent purchaser if one has no knowledge of the existence of a void instrument in the chain of title and the corresponding adverse interest after sufficient inquiry.
This unsettled area of the law needs clarification, and legislation is necessary to correct the present imbalance existing between a creditor or a subsequent purchaser for valuable consideration without notice of a void instrument in the chain of title and the individual who clothed the creditor's or subsequent purchaser's grantor with apparent title. Proposed statutory changes will clarify that the mere existence of a recorded void instrument in one's chain of title will not deprive a creditor or subsequent purchaser of innocent purchaser status. These proposals will curtail the growth of implied actual notice, by limiting the scope of implied actual notice to title related matters. It is time to repair the broken chain to protect creditors and subsequent purchasers from being deprived of innocent purchaser status due to the mere existence of a void instrument in their chain of title.
Richard E. Flint, Time to Repair the Chain: Void Deeds, Subsequent Purchasers, and the Texas Recording Statutes, 48 St. Mary’s L.J. 1 (2016).