Understanding Inquiry Notice: Its Utility, Risks, and Doctrinal Complexities
Professor Donald J. Kochan, Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development and Professor of Law, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law
Professor James C. Smith, John Byrd Martin Chair of Law, University of Georgia School of Law
Christopher K. Odinet, Assistant Professor of Law, Southern University Law Center
Purchasers of real property, including lenders who take mortgages, are bound not only by prior interests enumerated in the public records (“record notice”) and by interests that they actually know about, but also by off-record interests for which they have inquiry notice. The doctrine of inquiry notice can be especially difficult to grasp, both in determining when a duty to inquire further is triggered and how far a buyer must go to satisfy her obligation to conduct a reasonably prudent investigation. Inquiry notice doctrine exists to protect the property rights of persons holding prior-in-time interests not fully or perfectly shown by the public records. Often those interests are legitimate, with substantial reasons why their holders merit protection. Yet, if invoked too frequently or if it creates duties of lengthy and costly investigation, inquiry notice can create inefficiencies or even stymie altogether beneficial transactions.
The speakers will discuss several cases where courts have wrestled with some of the more difficult factual situations involving inquiry notice. The speakers will examine how the courts have attempted to find the proper balance between reasonable and unreasonable inquiry demands and evaluate court attempts to identify discernable standards to guide future parties on inquiry triggers and the scope of investigative due diligence.
The content of this program does not meet requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) accreditation. You will not receive CLE credit for this program.