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What is a Notice?


It's Information; knowledge of certain facts or of a particular state of affairs. The formal receipt of papers that provide specific information. There are various types of notice, each of which has different results. In general, notice deals with information that a party knows or should have known. In this context notice is an essential element of due process. Notice can also refer to commonly known facts that a court or administrative agency may take into evidence.


Actual Notice is information given to the party directly. The two kinds of actual notice are express notice and implied notice. An individual is deemed to have been given express notice when he or she actually hears it or reads it. Implied notice is deduced or inferred from the circumstances rather than from direct or explicit words. Courts will treat such information as though actual notice had been given.


Constructive notice is information that a court deems that an individual should have known. According to a rule of law that applies in such cases, the court will presume that a person knows the information because she could have been informed if proper diligence had been exercised. Constructive notice can be based on a legal relationship as well. For example, in the law governing partnerships, each partner is deemed to have knowledge of all the partnership business. If one partner engages in dishonest transactions, the other partners are presumed to know, regardless of whether they had actual knowledge of the transaction. The term legal notice is sometimes used interchangeably with constructive notice.


In certain cases involving the purchase of real property, an individual is charged with inquiry notice. When an individual wishes to purchase land, he ordinarily has the duty under the recording acts to check the title to the property to determine that the land is not subject to any encumbrances, which are claims, liens, mortgages, leases, easements or right of ways, or unpaid taxes that have been lodged against the real property. In some situations, however, the individual must make a reasonable investigation outside of the records, such as in cases involving recorded but defective documents. This type of notice is known as inquiry notice.


Some states have notice recording statutes that govern the recording of land titles. Whereas inquiry notice deals with looking closely at documents that have been recorded, notice recording statutes state that an unrecorded conveyance of property is invalid against the title bought by a subsequent bona fide purchaser for value and without notice. This means that if John purchases a piece of land on a contract for deed from Tom and does not record the contract for deed, and if Tom resells the land to Jill, who has no notice of the prior sale, then Jill as a bona fide purchaser will prevail, and John's conveyance will be invalid.


The concept of notice is critical to the integrity of legal proceedings. Due process requires that legal action cannot be taken against anyone unless the requirements of notice and an opportunity to be heard are observed.