Just for the Record: The Recording System

by Gary Casaly, Esquire

Part I

Just for the record, you should know that . . .

[No] mortgage, bargaine, sale or gruant hereafter to be made of any houses, lands, rents or other hereditaments, shall bee of force against any other person except the grauntor and his heirs, unless the same be recorded as is hereafter expressed [in the publik Record] . . . . And if any such grauntor, being required by the grauntee to make an acknowledgement of any graunt by him made, shall refuse to do so, it shall be in the power of any magistrate to send for the party so refusing and cimmit him to prison without baile or mayneprize, until he shall acknowledge the same . . . .


For the history buff, that's the earliest recording statute, which was passed in Massachusetts in 1640. The text appears in R. Powell & P. Rohan, 3 The Law of Property, Matthew Bender (1992), 904[1]. Except for the fact that the word "gruant" in the second line is obviously a misprint (as the root word throughout the rest of the section is "graunt"), there are no typos in the statute, but you'll have to get beyond the Chaucer-like spelling if you expect to (or even want to) understand the Colonial jargon.

Why would you want to understand this ancient statute anyhow (other than the fact that it might be good cocktail party talk, depending on your audience)? Understanding the machinations of the recording law as it has developed over the years answers many questions concerning priorities between competing interests, conflicting chains of title, out-of-order recordings and even questions as to whether parties with no ownership at all can convey a good title. As we'll see there are some real surprises in store as to what happens when the recording statute is applied in particular cases.

The Colonial enactment is for the most part entertaining, but today's recording laws and cases that swirl around its provisions find their geneses in it. It is interesting and informative to follow the progeny of this old law and watch how the legislature has changed it and how the courts have reformed it. Before we begin our journey, however, let's see what the present recording law (G.L.c. 183, §4) provides.

A conveyance of an estate in fee simple, fee tail or for life, or a lease for more than seven years from the making thereof, or an assignment of rents or profits from an estate or lease, shall not be valid as against any person, except the grantor or lessor, his heirs and devisees and persons having actual notice of it, unless it, or an office copy as provided in section thirteen of chapter thirty-six, or, with respect to such a lease or an assignment of rents or profits, a notice of lease or a notice of assignment of rents or profits, as hereinafter defined, is recorded in the registry of deeds for the county or district in which the land to which it relates lies.

The present-day statute is not dissimilar from the Colonial law (although it is easier to read!), but there is one very big difference: the statute introduces as an exception to its protection the requirement that the grantee not have "actual notice" with regard to deeds previously given by the grantor. This concept is absent from the Colonial law. In this respect, the Colonial law was a "race" statute, while the present-day law is a "notice" statute. The transformation between the two types of statutes was not initially championed by the legislature. The General Court engrafted the change in 1836 legislation, but the notice concept was first introduced judicially many years before, in such cases as Farnsworth v. Child, 43 Mass. 637 (1808). In Farnsworth the court had ruled that although the statute was silent on the point as to the status of one who was aware of an unrecorded deed, it would be unjust to permit such a person to prevail over a "good faith" purchaser who had no such knowledge. It is for this reason that it has been said that "[T]he additional words 'and persons having actual notice thereof' incorporated in the [statute] did not change the law, but merely put in statutory form what already had been declared by judicial exposition." This concept of notice becomes pivotal in many issues concerning the recording system, and is so pervasive that it even affects registered land. For example, in Killam v. March, 316 Mass. 646 (1944), where the owner of registered land had taken title with knowledge of the existence of a lease affecting the property but recorded on the unregistered side, the court said that the owner was subject to the lease even though it did not appear on the certificate of title. "[T]he foregoing historical background compel[s] the conclusion that the Legislature did not intend to give certificate holders such as the plaintiffs an indefeasible title as against interests of which they had actual knowledge."

In addition to persons having "actual notice" of an unrecorded instrument, there are two other categories of persons who are bound by such instruments. They are, under the provisions of the statute, "the grantor or lessor [and] his heirs and devisees." The first category, the grantor or lessor, is pretty obvious. The second category, heirs and devisees, is very important. Heirs and devisees are bound by an unrecorded instrument, whether or not they have notice of it. This means that if the grantor gives a deed, whether it's recorded or not before his death, the heirs and devisees, who otherwise would have succeeded to the title, will nonetheless be bound by the deed and title to the property will not vest in them. But if the heirs and devisees are bound by the unrecorded deed, and therefore don't have title upon the grantor's death, what happens if they deed out after the grantor's death and before that previously-given deed appears of record? Does their grantee get a good title even though the heirs or devisees don't have one to transfer? The answer is "yes," and revolves around the recording statute itself, and is explained in Earle v. Fiske, 103 Mass. 491 (1896). In Earle the facts were that Nancy Fiske gave a deed of locus to Mary Fiske in 1864, but the deed was not recorded at that time. Nancy died in 1865. In 1866 Benjamin Fiske, Nancy's sole heir, deeded the property to Nicholas Earle, and it was only the next year, in 1867, that the deed from Nancy to Mary was recorded. Nicholas claimed the title as his under the deed from Benjamin. Mary, however, insisted that she was the rightful owner.

All the parties in Earle, and the court itself, acknowledged the general proposition that Nancy's giving of the deed to Mary stripped the former of her title and vested it in the latter, but that Nancy would still have been able to give a good title to a bona fide purchaser before the deed was recorded. The question in the case, however, was whether Benjamin, Nancy's sole heir, could likewise give a good title before the deed was recorded. The trial court had ruled that Nancy "has no seisin, at her death, which would descend to Benjamin Fiske, so as to enable him to convey a good title." Two jurisdictions at the time, Connecticut and Kentucky, had ruled that under their statutes a person in Benjamin's position could not give a good title, even before his mother's deed was recorded, and that the protection that the recording statute provided, although applying to the grantor, would not apply to her heirs. The trial court had followed these rulings, but the Supreme Judicial Court took a different position:

We do not, under the circumstances, incline to yield to the authority of [the Connecticut and Kentucky] cases in the construction of a local statute of this Commonwealth. It appears to us that the plain meaning of our system of registration is, that a purchaser of land has a right to rely upon the information furnished him by the registry of deeds, and in the absence of notice to the contrary he is justified in taking that information as true, and acting upon it accordingly. It is impossible to see why the unrecorded deed of Nancy A. Fiske should have any greater weight or force after her decease than it had immediately after it was first delivered. * * * Upon that assumption, [Benjamin's] deed would take precedence over the unrecorded deed of his mother, in exactly the same manner as a deed from his mother in her lifetime would have done over any unrecorded or unknown previous deed from herself.

The court acknowledged that "[i]t may not be very logical" to say that after a title has been conveyed out it is still capable of being conveyed again as though the first conveyance had not occurred, but the result was dictated not on logic, but on fairness, and was based on giving integrity to the recording system.

One important point that should be noted about the recording statute is that it does not protect "the grantor . . ., his heirs and devisees and persons having actual notice of" the conveyance. This listing includes three separate groups. We've seen that in the Earle decision an heir or devisee, though bound by the deed of the ancestor, can nevertheless give a good title to a third party who qualifies as a bona fide purchaser without notice. The axiom to this rule is that if the grantor dies before his or her deed is recorded the heirs and devisees, though they are able to pass a good title before such recording, cannot do so after such recording. In Earle the heirs gave a deed to a purchaser before their ancestor's deed was recorded. Though the heirs did not have any title to give, the purchaser's title prevailed. On the other hand, if the ancestor's deed had appeared of record after the ancestor's death but before the heirs had deeded out, the ancestor's deed would have prevailed and a later deed by the heirs to the purchaser would have failed. At that point the ability of the heirs or devisees to give a good title would terminate. The heirs, being bound by the deed according to the statute, cannot complain about this result. So, it becomes important when "running the title out" after the ancestor's death to continue running the ancestor and the heirs until a conveyance is found. Though it "looks like" the heirs or devisees have title upon the ancestor's death, this may only be an illusion.

Recording an instrument is not necessary to transfer the title,[1] but rather has the purpose of protecting good faith purchasers who are relying upon the records filed with the registry of deeds from a competing off-record title that thereafter materializes on the record. For example, in King v. Stephens, 9 Mass.App.Ct. 919, 404 N.E.2d 115 (1980), where the issue was merely the out-of-order recording of various deeds between family members, the court said, "The problem presented is not one of priority as between two conflicting, successive conveyances to bona fide purchasers, or persons claiming under them, of the same legal interest in land, and thus is not a problem to be resolved by application of the recording statute, G.L.c. 183, §4." But though recording is not necessary to pass title, an improper or ineffective recording (or none at all) will permit competing interests to intervene. So, what is an "improper or ineffective" recording? What happens, for example, if an instrument is tendered to and accepted by the recorder, but is not properly indexed? Is that an "improper or ineffective" recording? The answer is "no." The recording in fact is effective and binding even though a thorough search of the index will not discover it! In Park, Massachusetts Practice, Real Estate Law, with Forms, West Publishing Co. (Second Edition, 1981), §420 this is said:

The record of an instrument erroneously indexed is still constructive notice to the public. The index ordinarily is no part of the record, and a mistake made in it by the clerk does not invalidate the notice afforded by a record otherwise in proper form.

An improperly acknowledged instrument or one that contains no acknowledgment at all, is deemed not to be effectively recorded. Such an instrument is effective to convey title - just like an unrecorded instrument would do - but its record is a nullity, and thus the protection afforded by the recording statute does not exist. Pidge v. Tyler, 4 Mass. 541 (1808).

If acknowledgement is so important to the effective recording of an instrument, what kinds of acknowledgments would be deemed defective? Obviously, the complete lack of an acknowledgment renders the recording a nullity. In some situations, however, a certificate of acknowledgment may have been affixed to the instrument but the recording nonetheless deemed defective. For example, if the grantee in a deed serves as the notary who takes the acknowledgment of the grantor the acknowledgment will be deemed defective. In Patton on Titles, West Publishing Company (Second Edition, 1957) this is said in Section 356:

Public policy forbids that the act of taking and certifying the acknowledgment should be performed by a person financially or beneficially interested in the transaction. Such disqualification naturally includes the signer of the instrument, his grantee, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary or assignee, a member of the partnership in whose favor the instrument is drawn, and, except where the disability has been removed by statute, stockholder[s] of a corporation which is a party to [the] conveyance. (Citations omitted).

What if the grantee does not serve as the notary, but goes before the notary? Is the acknowledgment okay? The statute that governs acknowledgments (G.L.c. 183, §30) requires that "one or more of the grantors" acknowledge the instrument. If, for example, a husband and wife as tenants by the entirety join in a deed to the wife and she alone goes before the notary, is the acknowledgment defective? Gordon v. Gordon, 8 Mass.App.Ct. 860, 398 N.E.2d 497 (1979), cited in footnote 1 above, says that the acknowledgement is good. The Gordon court held that although the wife was the grantee, she also qualified as a "grantor." (One authoritative source confines the Gordon decision to the facts - a deed from husband and wife to one of the spouses - but this interpretation seems too limiting.)

What about a notarial seal? If one is not affixed to the instrument is the acknowledgement defective and thus the recording ineffective? Acknowledgments within Massachusetts do not require a notarial seal. Those taken outside of Massachusetts but within the United States do not require one either. (Title Standard No. 16 once required such seals. That was changed in 2000, but there never really was a requirement of a seal in such cases. See Farnum v. Buffum, 58 Mass. 260 (1849), where the court said, with regard to an acknowledgement taken in Rhode Island, "The statute requires no notarial seal to the notary's certificate of acknowledgement, and none, we think, was necessary.")

Under G.L.c. 184, §24 an instrument that has been on record for more than ten years is "cured" of the effects of a defective acknowledgment.

Part II

Let's continue our review of the history and application by the courts of the recording statute. In Part I we started off with the Chaucer-like 1640 enactment of the Colonial recording law and ended up two pages later noting that many problems that would arise by reason of a defective recording would be cured by a statute passed more than three hundred years thereafter. A lot went on during those three centuries and some of the case law and statutory enactments were discussed in Part I. But there are still more things to explore about the recording law, and some of them may surprise you.

In his treatise Deeds, Mortgages and Easements (Wright & Potter Printing Company, Revised Edition, 1947), Albert Partridge proclaims in one of the most obvious understatements I have ever read that, "It is a matter of common knowledge that there is an advantage gained by speedily recording a deed in the registry of deeds for the county or district where the land lies." That's for sure! The "advantage gained," of course, is perfecting the interest conveyed from the possible intervention of another, but theretofore unrecorded, interest. But the recording statute is a bit more sophisticated than "who gets on title first." In fact, by court edict after the original Colonial law, and thereafter by legislative amendment, the concept of "actual notice" was injected into the terms of the statute so that it, to the same effect as an actual recording of another instrument, could neutralize the protection that the recording statute would otherwise provide. In this regard, the statute, G.L.c. 183, §4 provides:

A conveyance of an estate in fee simple, fee tail or for life, or a lease for more than seven years from the making thereof, or an assignment of rents or profits from an estate or lease, shall not be valid as against any person, except the grantor or lessor, his heirs and devisees and persons having actual notice of it, unless it, or an office copy as provided in section thirteen of chapter thirty six, or, with respect to such a lease or an assignment of rents or profits, a notice of lease or a notice of assignment of rents or profits, as hereinafter defined, is recorded in the registry of deeds for the county or district in which the land to which it relates lies.

What is this "actual notice" that the statute speaks of that can "undo" a conveyance in favor of a prior unrecorded interest? What facts are necessary to satisfy this requirement? The notice that the statute speaks of is a question of fact to be established by a jury, but the courts have generally construed the requirement of actual notice "with considerable strictness," and have stated that "[k]nowledge of facts which would ordinarily put a party upon inquiry is not enough." McCarthy v. Lane, 301 Mass. 125 (1938). In McCarthy the issue before the court was one concerning competing chains of title to a disputed parcel of land and the question of "actual notice" under the statute. The dispute centered around the "call for abutters" in the competing deeds. The facts in the case were that Francis Weld owned all the land at one time. Weld conveyed the disputed parcel to the petitioner's (McCarthy) predecessor in title by a deed recorded on June 16, 1891. Prior to that time, however, Weld had given a deed to the respondent's (Casey) predecessor in title which included a portion of the land conveyed in the first mentioned deed, but the Casey deed was not recorded until after the McCarthy deed on June 24, 1891. The deed to McCarthy's predecessor made mention of Casey's predecessor as an abutter, even though the deed to Casey's predecessor had not yet been recorded. Ultimately, the two chains came down to McCarthy and Casey, respectively. When McCarthy attempted to register his title Casey objected, claiming that McCarthy's predecessor, and therefore McCarthy himself, had "actual notice" of the deed to Casey's predecessor, by reason of the mention in the deed to McCarthy's predecessor of Casey's predecessor being an abutter. The court disagreed:

References in the deeds in the petitioner's chain to title to Casey and his predecessors as adjoining owners on the south would not require a finding that the grantees had actual notice of a deed which encroached upon the land being acquired by them.

This does not mean that confusing or ambiguous references in deeds to abutters who "don't line up" can be ignored; obviously, those references can be to prior-recorded instruments that were "missed" in the examination of title. But what the court is saying here is that such references will not themselves reach the level of "actual notice" of off-record[2] instruments. The court is also saying that such references will not impose upon the grantee an obligation to make further inquires.

The McCarthy decision should be distinguished from that in Hughes v. Williams, 218 Mass. 448, 105 N.E. 1056. In Hughes, just like in McCarthy, the dispute arose in connection with a registration proceeding. The petitioner (Hughes) claimed his title under a sheriff's sale, which was based upon an execution, which in turn had grown out of an attachment in an action brought by Duckrey against Jones. Jones had acquired the title of record from Williams. However, upon his acquisition Jones immediately reconveyed the title back to Williams by deed that was not recorded. Williams retained occupation of the property. The attachment was recorded against Jones while he was in record title, and the deed from Jones to William did not appear of record until just before Hughes purchased it at the sheriff's sale. Hughes claimed superior title under the record that had shown Jones as the owner at the time of the attachment; but Williams asserted that his title was paramount because Duckrey knew of the deed back to him when the attachment was recorded and that with the recording of the deed from Jones to Williams occurring before Hughes took title at the sheriff's sale, Hughes too knew of the conveyance.

Hughes' knowledge would become relevant only if Duckrey at the time of the attachment had knowledge of the unrecorded deed from Jones to Williams. Noting that attaching creditors hold their title in the same fashion as purchasers, the court said, "If [Duckrey] did not have actual notice of the unrecorded deed at the date of the attachment . . . the petitioner even if chargeable with notice at the sale, would succeed to Duckrey's title by force of the levy."

There was evidence that the petitioner knew of the existence of the deed to Williams before the sheriff sale because his counsel had told him about it as a result of a search of the record. In quoting from George v. Kent, 7 Allen 16, the court said, "Intelligent information of a fact, either verbally or in writing, and coming from a source which a party ought to give heed to, is generally considered as evidence of [actual notice] . . . ." But the real question was whether Duckrey knew of the deed to Williams at the time he attached the property in Jones' name. The court noted there was evidence to show this to be the fact, but various erroneous jury instructions required the issue to be retried. The point of Hughes, however, is that the type of notice involved in that case, namely knowledge of the existence of a deed, is much different than the type of surmise that occurred in McCarthy. Knowledge of the existence of a deed or other instrument is to be distinguished from recitations in deeds with no actual notice of an unrecorded underlying document to support them.

Both McCarthy and Hughes involved the question of actual knowledge and the effect it would have on pending registration proceedings. Cases like Killam v. March, 316 Mass. 646, 55 N.E.2d 945 involve notice questions with respect to land that has already been registered. In Killam, the court held that a purchaser of registered land who had actual notice of a lease for more that seven years was subject to it even though it did not appear on the certificate of title. Under the decision in Killam it would seem that if one discovers a deed on the "wrong" (recorded) side at the registry of deeds that describes the registered land at issue that it too would be actual notice of the existence of the conveyance and would result in the purchaser of the registered land taking title subject to those outstanding rights.[3]

A case cited in Partridge's treatise is Trull v. Bigelow, 16 Mass 406, which rendered a surprising (but seemingly fair) result. The facts in the case were:

Transaction Date of
Date of
Notice Factor
1 A conveys to B
2 A conveys to C
C knows of #1
3 C conveys to D
D does not know of #1
4 D conveys to E
E knows of #1

The court held that E had good title.

Deed #2, though given after Deed #1 is recorded prior to it. That's the key here. E, when starting his title will find Deed #2 in his search and will go no further. And since D's title is indefeasible (he has no knowledge of Deed #1), the court held that E stepped into his shoes when he purchased from D, even though he knew of Deed #1 (not from record examination, but from his own knowledge).

The Trull decision was questioned by Chief Justice Shaw in Flynt v. Arnold, 2 Met. 619, and appears never to have been cited since, so its continued authority is unknown.

Actual notice of a competing instrument will defeat an otherwise good title of record. It is a substitute for the constructive notice that a recording would have provided.

But what if an instrument is actually on record? Will it always impart constructive notice to those dealing with the title? In George v. Wood, 9 Allen 80, after a mortgage had been recorded, a portion of the mortgaged premises was conveyed by the mortgagor and the mortgagee thereafter, without knowledge of the deed, gave a partial release to another portion of the mortgaged property. In connection with a dispute as to whether the partial release would in some way under the theory of marshaling of assets impair the security upon the land that was conveyed and upon which the mortgage remained outstanding, the court stated that, "We are not aware of any adjudged case in which the record of a deed has been held to be constructive notice to any persons other than subsequent purchasers, or those claiming title under the same grantor." In other words, the mortgagee was not bound by the notice that the recording statute imparted with respect to the latter-recorded deed and, since he did not have actual notice or knowledge of the deed, he was not bound by it.

Similarly, in Strong v. Stoneham Cooperative Bank, 2 Mass.App.Ct. 828, where a first mortgagee entered into agreements with the borrower modifying the mortgage and increasing the interest rate, the court said that the amended mortgage would not be adversely affected by the then existing subordinate second mortgages that it was unaware of. "We need not decide whether [the agreements] were valid against nonconsenting junior encumbrancers of whom the bank had actual or constructive notice (compare Guleserian v. Fields, 351 Mass. 238, 241 242 [1966]) since there was no evidence that the bank had such notice. While it appears that the junior mortgages were recorded before the amendatory agreements had been made, the recording of those mortgages was not constructive notice of their existence to the mortgagee under the first mortgages. See George v. Wood, 9 Allen 80, 83 84 (1864); Dixon v. Smith, 181 Mass. 218, 221 (1902); Clarke v. Cowan, 206 Mass. 252, 255 (1910). Cf. Hardy v. Beverly Sav. Bank, 175 Mass. 112, 113 114 (1900)."

The decisions in George and Stone don't mean that one should go and amend mortgages or make loan disbursements under security instruments without doing title rundowns, but they do tell us how the courts have interpreted the constructive notice provisions of the statute.

One final note. There are some situations where the record title will not protect a party relying upon it. For example, with one exception (noted below), the recording statute does not apply to one dealing with the record holder of a mortgage. The mortgagee may have transferred the note or given an unrecorded assignment, and in those instances, though the record title shows the mortgagee as the holder, this is not the case and the off-record instruments will bind a purchaser. See Lamson & Co., Inc. v. Abrams, 305 Mass. 238, 25 N.E.2d 374. "The security (mortgage) follows the debt" is the controlling rule here, regardless of the record status of the mortgage. The exception to this rule is found in G.L.c. 183, §54 which provides that, "The recordation of a duly executed and acknowledged deed of release or written acknowledgment of payment or satisfaction as provided herein shall be conclusive evidence that the mortgage has been discharged notwithstanding the fact that the party signing such instrument may have assigned the note or other evidence of debt to another party, unless such assignment had been duly recorded prior to the instrument discharging the mortgage." This statute, which applies exclusively to discharges, is the only statute I am aware of that makes a "cut out" to the common law rule announced in the Lamson decision.

As alluded to at the end of Part I of this article, bear in mind that these discussions relating to constructive notice afforded by the recording statute and the lack thereof if an instrument does not conform to some requirement of law, such as an acknowledgement for instruments required to be acknowledged in order to be recorded, has been mitigated for instruments of record for more than 10 years by G.L.c. 184, §24, which provides:

When any owner of land the title to which is not registered, or of any interest in such land, signs and instrument in writing conveying or purporting to convey his land or interest, or in any manner affecting or purporting to affect his title thereto, and the instrument, whether or not entitled to record, is recorded, and indexed, in the registry of deeds for the district wherein such land is situated, and a period of ten years elapses after the instrument is accepted for record, and the instrument or the record thereof because of defect, irregularity or omission fails to comply in any respect with any requirement of law relating to seals, corporate or individual, to the validity of acknowledgment, to certificate of acknowledgment, witnesses, attestation, proof of execution, or time of execution, to recitals of consideration, residence, address, or date, to the authority of a person signing for a corporation who purports to be the president or treasurer or a principal officer of the corporation, such instrument and the record thereof shall notwithstanding any or all of such defects, irregularities and omissions, be effective for all purposes to the same extent as though the instrument and the record thereof had originally not been subject to the defect, irregularity or omission, unless within said period of ten years a proceeding is commenced on account of the defect, irregularity or omission, and notice thereof is duly recorded in said registry of deeds and indexed and noted on the margin thereof under the name of the signer of the instrument and, in the event of such proceeding, unless relief is thereby in due course granted.

This is a handy little statute with which to become familiar. It can save a lot of title headaches when you run into one or more of these problems in your back chain of title that would otherwise call into question the effectiveness of the recording of an instrument that made it to record even though it perhaps should not have because of one of these "defects, irregularities or omissions."

1 An exception to this rule existed between 1912 and 1975 when deeds between spouses were not effective to pass title until the instrument "is duly acknowledged and recorded in the registry of deeds." See G.L.c. 209, §3 (since amended) and Gordon v. Gordon, 8 Mass.App.Ct. 860, 398 N.E.2d 497 (1979) for a discussion of that law in effect at the time. [Back to Text]

2 Of course, by the time McCarthy and Casey got into title the initial deeds of the two competing chains of titles had both been recorded. The court commented on this: "Any grantee claiming under the [McCarthy chain] who did not himself have actual notice of the [first deed in the Casey chain] acquired a title superior to that of grantees claiming under the [Casey chain], even though that deed may have borne an earlier date than the [first deed in the McCarthy chain]; and this remains true, even though some former grantee [in the McCarthy chain] may have had such notice. Morse v. Curtis, 140 Mass. 112, 2 N.E. 929." [Back to Text]

3 The argument that the act of registration only passes title to registered land under G.L.c. 185, §57, and that a deed therefore recorded on the recorded side could be ignored, most likely would not prevail, because under Federal National Bank v. Gaston, 56 Mass. 471, 152 N.E. 924 the court held that a mortgage of registered land that had not yet been registered would nonetheless bind the heirs and devisees of the grantor and, supposedly, those in other unprotected categories, namely persons having actual knowledge of it. [Back to Text]