There are currently two systems of land conveyancing in England and Wales: Registered and Unregistered. The doctrine of notice does not apply to registered land.
The doctrine of notice applies to equitable interests made before 1925, and is a method of protecting third party interests in land.
The doctrine stems from the concept of 'Equity's Darling' (mentioned in my 'B' post). If a purchaser did not know about an equitable interest having made full inquiries and investigations, and so did not have actual, constructive or imputed knowledge of the interest, he/she was known as a 'bona fide purchaser for value without notice' (I will break this down into simpler terms momentarily), and could therefore acquire the legal title of the property free of the equitable interests (one example being a holder of an easement, for example having a right to light over their own property or access to their own home).
Bona fide purchaser for value without notice:
- Bona fide purchaser - the purchaser must act in good faith.
E.g, in the past, purchasers have been known to purposely turn a blind eye to the investigations, claiming that they did not know of the other interests, so that they might gain the property without being subject to equitable interests of third parties. If you fail to inspect the property thoroughly enough, the court will hold that you have constructive notice of those interests - so, you would be deemed to have notice of all interests, charges and easements that you would have known about had you made a reasonably thorough inspection.
- For value - the purchaser must have given some consideration for the land - they would not be a purchaser for value if the land was left to them in a will, or as a gift, or through adverse possession.
- Without notice - the purchaser must not know of the equitable right actually or constructively.
Most interests are now protected by entry on a register, meaning the purchaser is deemed to have knowledge of them & they are therefore binding upon him/her. As a result, this doctrine applies only to a few interests.
Acts such as the Land Charges Act 1972 and the Land Registration Act 2002 produce a more coherent system of land registration as they record all of the various land charges, interests and other rights held over each piece of land.
That, without my bible, is about all I can say about this topic! :)