Nova Law Review, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Spring 1996), pp. 1165-1185. With the permission of the Nova Law Review.


The most ambitious effort at uniform property legislation ever launched was the Uniform Land Transactions Act (“ULTA”) and its companion, the Uniform Simplification of Land Transfers Act (“USLTA”). Both Acts, however, met with singular failure in the sense of uniform legislative shunning and have not substantially influenced judges in their lawmaking roles. In published opinions, very few courts have relied upon the ULTA or USLTA positions for analogous support.

Why did a single state legislature, somewhere in America, not pass at least one of the Acts? We cannot tell for sure why the legislatures eschewed the USLTA and the ULTA. There may be no single reason. In some states, there may have been more pressing legislative business for a number of sessions; in other states, there may have been no energetic proponents or available sponsors; in others, a searching study may have disclosed that the Acts' principles were not compatible with the states' perceived needs.

My purpose is not to make a comprehensive study either of the causes for legislative rejection of the Acts or of the merits of the Acts' provisions. As indicated above, one cannot be certain that lack of adoption is due to a perception that the Acts' substantive principles are deficient in terms of policy. My suggestion, however, is that one plausible explanation for the failure to garner adoptions is that the core principles of the Acts were rejected on their merits. The rejection occurred not because the principles are intrinsically flawed (which may or may not be the case), but because they embody major reforms that do not respond to contemporary market needs. Instead, the proposed reforms ignore market changes, including developing market-based solutions to legal problems concerning real estate transactions.