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Real Estate Equity and the Equitable Doctrine of Notice

In the case of equitable doctrine, these equitable estates and other rights might arise, where there was one very important difference between them and the legal estates recognized by the Common Law. A legal right is said to be a right against the entire world. What is meant by that is that if a man buys a Jamaican home for sale and there happens to exist over it some legal rights in the hands of someone else, the purchaser will be bound by the right automatically, irrespective of whether he knew of its existence or not.

An equitable right however was only binding on a purchaser of a legal Jamaica real estate if he knew of its existence at the time when he bought it. To put this in a different way, the equitable doctrine of notice is that an equitable right is valid against everyone except a bona fide purchaser of a legal estate for value without notice of the existence of that equitable right.

There are certain terms used in the statement of the equitable doctrine of notice in the previous paragraph which require some further explanation.

Bona fide – In this instance means of “in good faith”.

Purchaser – This word used here, as often in real property law does not mean merely the man who buys land. It includes also any person whom the land passes otherwise other than by descent.

For value – A purchaser for value is one who has given money or money’s worth for the estate.

Notice – There are three kinds of notice which may affect the purchaser of a legal estate under the equitable doctrine. These notices are:

(a) Actual Notice: In this case the purchaser himself has knowledge of the existence of the equitable right. If this were the only type of notice which affected the purchaser a man who is cunning might take good care not to investigate too deeply the history of any land for sale in Jamaica which he proposed to buy and thus be sure of having no knowledge of any equitable rights. To prevent this from happening there is another type of notice, namely;

(b) Constructive notice: Where the purchaser would have discovered the existence of some equitable right had he used ordinary diligence and care in investigating the history of the Jamaica property, he is deemed to have notice of that right even though he was not actually aware of it himself. So if A is told that the title deeds of the property includes, say, a Will of 1930 and the Will in fact grants an equitable right to X, A will be deemed to have notice of the equitable right even though he did not bother to look at the Will.

(c) Imputed notice: Finally any knowledge of equitable rights which is gained by any agent of the purchaser, such as a solicitor or estate agent is imputed to the purchaser himself. This applies both to any actual knowledge of the agent and also to the constructive knowledge as in (b) above. One prime example we like to use are houses for sale in Hanover Jamaica.