South Texas Law Review
Lawyers, landmen, landowners, and producers face a long list of perennial problems when interpreting or drafting documents that affect mineral estates. I have written extensively about these problems, including the "fixed or floating" non-participating royalty issue addressed in a recent Texas Supreme Court case, Hysaw v. Dawkins. In that case, three siblings, who were beneficiaries of their mother's will, disputed the appellate court's holding that the double fraction 1/3 of 1/8 created a "fixed" 1/24th non-participating royalty interest (NPRi), rather than a "floating" 1/3 NPRi. The dispute arose when one sibling leased her land and negotiated a 1/5th landowner's lease royalty, rather than the once-common 1/8th. The case presented the Texas Supreme Court with the opportunity to clarify mixed results from appellate court cases. This Article reviews cases prior to Hysaw and discusses the lessons that opinion provides regarding the "fixed or floating" NPRi issue. The Article concludes that Hysaw has clarified the law by confirming a holistic approach that eschews bright-line rules, such as merely multiplying fractions in deeds with double or restated fractions. Instead, the opinion endorses an analysis approach that turns to the "estate misconception" and the legacy of the once-common 1/8th landowner's royalty when interpreting such deeds. Hysaw also provides direction for drafting and should create predictability for owners and producers that will improve title stability in the shale era.
Laura H. Burney, The Legacy of the 1/8th Landowner's Royalty and the Texas Supreme Court: Has Hysaw v. Dawkins Resolved the Double Fraction Dilemma, 58 S. Tex. L. Rev. 115 (2016).