Law of Property Act, 1925 (English) 915 Geo. 5,
c. 20), with amending Acts, 1926, 1929 and 1932 (cited together as the Law of Property Acts, 1925 to 1932), has consolidated and effected changes in the land laws with the object of simplifying the transfer and conveyance of land. An important change was the abolition of all legal estates or tenures in land, except an estate in fee simple in possession, and a term of years absolute in or in certain incorporeal hereditaments arising out of annexed to or charged upon the legal estate in land. Any number of these legal estates can exist in respect of the same piece of land or incorporeal hereditament; for instance, land may be held in fee simple, leased and mortgaged at the same time. all other estate and interests inland are reduced to equitable interests. All mortgages of the same legal estate under the statutory conditions are legal estates. None being for the whole fee simple or the term, but each for a term taken out of the fee or original term which remains in the mortgagor and so that each sub-sequent mortgage overlaps the previous one and takes up some of the residue of the legal estate still remaining in the mortgagor (see MORTGAGES).
The chief legal estates which have been converted into equitable interests from the 1st January, 1926, are: (1) Tenancies in common or in undivided shares inland (see UNDIVIDED SHARES). (2) Limited estates, less than the fee or entire term, e.g., entailed estates, estates for life, in remainder whether vested or contingent, and married women's estates subject to a restraint upon anticipation (see SETTLED LAND settled land). (3) Legal estates of infants in fee simple, legal estate not being capable of being held by an infant (see INFANTS). The object of these changes being that the entirity of the legal estate should be in the hands of an owner or joint owners of full age who can deal with the whole estate without the concurrence of holders of equitable interests in favour of a purchaser for value by means of an expedient which is generally termed 'the CURTAIN,' that is to say, in outline: (a) trustees for sale as to undivided shares; (b) the tenant for life or other statutory owner of the fee in trust for limited or settled estates and infants' estates; (c) personal representatives as to the estate of the deceased, whether testate or intestate;(d) mortgagees; (e) an order of Court as provided, may, with certain exceptions set out in sub-s. (3) of s. 2, (English) L.P. Act, 1925, convey the whole of the legal estate in the fee simple or term free from, i.e., over-reaching, any of the equitable interests covered or curtained by the powers exercisable by the respective donees under (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e), to a purchaser for value without disclosing, or putting him upon inquiry concerning the equitable interests or title to the same to withheld from his notice (see, generally, (English) Law of Property Act, 1925, ss. 1 and 2). A person not included in the classes referred to, e.g., a sole beneficial owner in possession of his property, selling it in exercise of his powers as such owner, cannot take advantage of the curtain except in so far as it may have been properly used in connection with any link in his own title; see further, LAND CHARGES; MORT-GAGE; REGISTRATION OF TITLE.
The registration of equitable interests and some legal charges under the (English) Land Charges Act,1925, has to some extent preserved the legal rights against the land of the owner of these equities (see LAND CHARGES). Subject to the Acts all equitable interests which are enforceable in a Court of Equity are preserved (see s. 3 of the (English) L.P. Act, 1925). A substantial part of the Law of Property Acts consists of the modifications necessary or to give effect to the changes in the law and to simplify the investigation of title. See also ABSTRACT CONDITIONS OF SALE 'COMMONS; LEASES; LEGAL ESTATE; MORTGAGE; NOTICE; PERPETUITIES; and Wolst. And Ch. Conv. Statutes.
Notwithstanding these changes, the old law of real property as it existed on the 31st December,1925, is still in force subject to express statutory modification in regard to the equitable interests to which the old legal estates in land have been reduced, and the old law is applicable for the purpose of ascertaining the title of the persons claiming land or any interest therein up to the 1st January, 1926.
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