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Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Land Professional Licensing Requirement

On September 25, 2018, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued its opinion which held that oil and gas land professionals must be licensed as real estate brokers in Ohio if they are engaged in obtaining oil and gas leases for other oil and gas development companies. In Dundics v. Eric Petroleum Corp., No. 2018-Ohio-3826 (Ohio Sept. 25, 2018), the Court affirmed an appeals court decision which held that oil and gas land professionals could not bring a suit against an oil and gas development company for compensation owed in acquiring oil and gas leases because such leases fall within the statutory definition of “real estate” as defined in O.R.C. 4735.01 and therefore, oil and gas land professionals must be licensed as real estate brokers, as provided for in O.R.C. 4735.01, before they can negotiate the acquisition of these leases. 

In reaching its conclusion, the Court relied upon the statutory definitions of “real estate” and “real-estate-broker,” which the Court found to be clear and unambiguous. The Court determined that there was no basis in the statutory language for excluding oil and gas land professionals or oil and gas leases from the relevant definitions or from the reach of the licensing regime. As a result, the Court determined that the suit brought by the oil and gas land professionals had been properly dismissed because they were not licensed to perform such activities in Ohio.  

From the Court’s perspective, it is for the Ohio General Assembly to consider the goals and intention of the licensing requirements and decide whether oil and gas land professionals should be exempted from such requirements since the General Assembly had created certain other exemptions from the otherwise broad reach of the licensing requirements, including exemptions for attorneys, bankruptcy trustees, and executors of wills. 

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About this Author

Timothy McKeen, Energy Attorney, Steptoe Johnson Law FIrm
Member

Tim McKeen focuses his practice in oil and gas law throughout the Appalachian Basin, specializing in title, due diligence and mineral acquisitions.  Mr. McKeen is the author of the American Association of Professional Landmen's Ohio comparative law article on oil and gas and is a frequent speaker for industry groups on oil and gas issues throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  He has also authored several law review articles on Ohio oil and gas issues.  Mr. McKeen is the Leader of the firm's Mineral Title and Energy Real Estate team and is also the Managing...

(304) 231-0473
Member

Andy Graham focuses his practice in the areas of energy and mineral law (oil and gas, coal, and coalbed methane), real estate, and commercial transactions.  Mr. Graham regularly assists clients with mineral title examinations, coordinating and performing due diligence, buying and selling mineral assets, and issues related to surface use and compensation arising from mineral development.  He is admitted in Texas and West Virginia.

(304) 598-8161
Jason Lucas, Energy Attorney, Steptoe Johnson Law Firm
Member

Jason Lucas focuses his practice in the areas of energy and mineral law. Mr. Lucas regularly assists clients with mineral title examinations and title opinions and coordinating and performing due diligence and mineral acquisitions throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. Mr. Lucas also advocates for client interest through his leadership positions in various regional and national oil and gas associations.  Mr. Lucas is one of the founders of the Appalachian Basin Association of Division  Order Analysts and serves as an Officer of NADOA, the National Association of Division...

(304) 231-0464