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Descriptions and Boundary Disputes--Avoiding Litigation Regarding Title to Real Property

Peter E. Hosey, Proceedings of 50th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2004)

Together with the taking of all manner of Heights and Distances, either accessible or inaccessible, the Plotting and Protracting of all manner of Grounds, either small Inclosures, Champion Plains, Woodlands, or any other Mountainous or uneven grounds. Also, how to take the Plot of a whole Manor, to cast up the content, and to make a perfect Chart or Map thereof. All which particulars are performed three several ways, and by three several Instruments.

--William Leybourn, The Compleat Surveyor (1657)

It is the prime directive of landman, lawyers, and other oil and gas professionals to avoid the courthouse door when structuring and preparing oil and gas transactions. As good fences make good neighbors, good property descriptions decrease the likelihood of subsequent litigation. At least that is the theory, until the smell of production (money) induces an enterprising lawyer and his/her client to seek to nullify an oil and gas transaction based on a defective property description contained in the transactional documents, thereby subjecting one and all to the clutches of the courthouse. This chapter will examine state law in discussing the definitions of boundaries, field notes, and the priorities of calls. It will discuss enforceable property descriptions, in contrast to descriptions that are generally unenforceable or ambiguous due to clashing calls. It is in tha