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Response or Comment

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Does the rule against perpetuities render unlimited options void? This is a question which the English courts answered affirmatively some thirty-five years ago; new aspects of the question have been frequently presented to those courts since that time, and conclusions not easy to reconcile have been reached. It is believed that the present status of the law in England is that an option is like any other interest in land, void if it may arise at too remote a time, otherwise not. This conclusion is based on the decision in Borland's Trustees v. Steel Bros. & Co. [1901] 1 Ch. D. 279, sustaining an option of a corporation to buy or call in its stock at any time; and Southeastern Ry. Co. v. Associated Portland Cement Mfgrs. [1910] 1 Ch. D. 12, sustaining a reservation of the right to tunnel under a railway at any time, reserved in the grant of the right of way. The American courts are just getting into the muddle, and it remains for the future to tell what will come of it, and, if the doctrine is accepted, how our courts can reconcile it with our kindred decisions since the first settlement. The most extreme view yet advanced is in a recent West Virginia case. Defendants sold two parcels of land, reserving to themselves and their heirs the right at any time to purchase the minerals under one piece at $1 an acre, and to purchase the minerals under the other at the same price at any time within 99 years. Plaintiffs, claiming title under these deeds, sued to have the options declared void and the cloud removed from the title. A decree for defendants was reversed on appeal, and decree according to the prayer ordered. Woodall v. Bruen (W. Va. 1915), 85 S. E. 170.