Contract Law


Understanding contract law is important for anyone who wants to work as a contract lawyer, or anyone who one day plans to draft a contract. A contract can be incredibly important when it comes to things such as property ownership, work contracts, mineral rights contracts, and estate contracts. The more you understand, the better off you will be to protect yourself against scams.

The United States in unique in that all mineral resources found do not belong directly to the government. Originally, mineral resource ownership went to those who owned the land upon which it was found. “Fee simple” simply means private ownership, which includes surface and mineral rights. Fee simple bestows upon the owner of the property the right to sell, lease, or gift any items found on the surface, the air, as well as the subsurface. After you’ve signed a lease, it is imperative that you verify the lease in question and any lack of payment on behalf of the coal companies with an attorney who understands mineral rights.

Coal companies will often opt for a lease due to uncertainty regarding the quality, quantity, and type of minerals they will find. Here, only portions of those rights are leased. However, the leases can dictate a general or specific commodity such as “all coal” or “Pittsburgh Coal”. If your agreement was for the latter but the mining company extracted the former, you should speak to a professional about restructuring your lease and getting the compensation you are owed. When you sign a coal lease, you are typically given a fixed amount plus “royalties”. Royalties refer to your portion of the production income. Your terms might instead specify a fixed payment or a percentage. Either way, you ought to have your money now. If the coal companies are getting paid, so too should you!

Whether you realize it or not, you might be owed compensation for delayed damage to the surface of your property, even if the company is no longer mining. Damage to your aquifers warrants additional compensation for significantly lowering the value of your property, assuming the agreement is in your lease. Sometimes, when initially offered the lease agreement, the landowners don’t always know what to look for or how to get fair compensation. Some landowners don’t realize that by placing any structures or equipment on your property, the coal company is liable for compensation for damage to the value of your property. If there is anything about your lease agreement or the level of compensation you deserve, talk to an attorney directly who can answers all of your mineral rights questions.