Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/12

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the cases where the defendant derives no benefit from the circumstance that he is an innocent purchaser; and, finally, to examine the so-called doctrine of tabula in naufragio.

Ⅰ.The typical case of protection of an innocent purchaser is the case where the defendant has bought a legal title from a fraudulent trustee or vendee.[1] No distinction is to be made between the purchaser of land and the purchaser of a chattel.[2] Nor is it essential that the innocent purchaser obtain the entire legal interest in the property, either in quantity or duration. The purchaser of an aliquot part of the estate, the grantee for value of a rent charge,[3] or the lessee for value, may keep the interest actually acquired from the fraudulent legal owner.

Closely akin to a lessee’s right is the interest of a pledgee. His right is a legal right in rem, and fundamentally different from the lien of an equitable incumbrancer, which is a right in personam. The innocent pledgee of a chattel may, therefore, retain his pledge until the claim thereby secured is satisfied.[4] A pledge of title-deeds is as effectual as a pledge of any other chattel. Title-deeds are, it is true, so far an accessory of the title to the land as to pass with it to the grantee, although not mentioned in the deed of conveyance.[5] But they are not inseparably attached to the title. The owner of the land may sever them, if he will, and dispose of them as chattels.[6]

  1. Pilcher v. Rawlins, 7 Ch. 259; Ames, Cas. on Trusts, 531, n.
  2. White v. Garden, 10 C. B. 919; Kingsford v. Merry, 11 Ex. 577; The Horlock, 2 Pr. D. 243. The fact that a defrauded vendor of a chattel is allowed to maintain trover against the fraudulent vendee has given a certain currency to the opinion that the protection of an innocent purchaser of a chattel is due to the principle of equitable estoppel. See Moyce v. Newington, 4 Q. B. 32, 35, per Cockburn, C.J. Lindsay v. Cundy, 3 App. Cas., shows the fallacy of this opinion. In that case, B, fraudulently pretending that he was buying for M, induced A to consent to the sale to M, and to deliver the goods to himself. B then sold to C, an innocent purchaser. A prevailed against C, because the title had never passed from him. And yet there was as strong a basis for estoppel in this case as in those where the fraudulent vendee acquires a defeasible title. In truth, the fraudulent vendee who gets the title is a constructive trustee, and the action of trover against him presents the anomaly of a bill in equity in a court of common law.
  3. Y.B., 14 H. VIII. 4, pl. 5; Cas. on Trusts, 528, s. c.
  4. Pease v. Gloahec, L.R., 1 P.C. 219; Babcock v. Lawson, 4 Q.B.D. 394, 5 Q.B. Div. 284; Joseph v. Lyons, 15 Q.B. Div. 280; Hallas v. Robinson, 15 Q.B. Div. 288.
  5. Copinger, Title-Deeds, 2.
  6. Copinger, Title-Deeds, 4; Barton v. Gainer, 3 H. & N. 387, 388. See also the analogous cases of severance, by an obligee, of the document from the obligation. Chadwick v. Sprite, Cro. El. 821; Mallory v. Lane, Cro. Jac. 342; 2 Roll. Ab. 41 [G.2]; Gibson v. Overbury, 7 M. & W. 555; Barton v. Gainer, 3 H. & N. 387; Rummens v. Hare, 1 Ex. D. 169.