Face Challenges Confidently

007 Jones v. Colle

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015


Richard F. Brown

The following is not a legal opinion. You should consult your attorney if the cases may be of significance to you.
The case of Jones v. Colle, 727 S.W.2d 262 (Tex. 1987), established the meaning and force of the “Mother Hubbard” clause as commonly found in Texas oil and gas leases. Lessees generally desire to secure the full mineral interest in the contiguous leased tract. Lessees are fearful that some interest may be left unleased if the legal description contains an error, the survey is in error, a reversionary interest vests in the lessor, the tract increases in size as the result of movement of stream beds, or a vacancy is discovered. These contingencies are guarded against by including the Mother Hubbard clause in the lease, which usually provides that, in addition to the described land, the lease covers and includes:
. . . all land, if any, contiguous or adjacent to or adjoining the land above described and (a) owned or claimed by limitation, prescription, possession, reversion or unrecorded instrument or (b) as to which lessor has a preference right of acquisition.
Lessors have worried that the clause might have the unintended effect of including two tracts under one lease. For example, the lessor might own adjoining Sections 1 and 2, lease Section 1 with a Mother Hubbard clause, and intentionally leave Section 2 unleased. Does the lease on Section 1 include Section 2? In the Jones case the Supreme Court says no. A Mother Hubbard clause covers property that is not expressly described only when that other property consists of small unleased pieces or strips of land which may exist without the knowledge of one or both of the parties.