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Record has multiple legal definitions:

1) To file a copy of a real estate instrument which affects a parcel of real property’s title, such as a deed, with the land records office (often called the county recorder, registry of deeds, or something similar) for the county in which the real property is located. For reference, California Civil Code §§ 27279–27297.6 lays out the process for recording deeds and real estate documents. Getting behind the statutory text, the California Department of Real Estate Guide to Title 5 explains that states, including California, adopted England’s system of recording to create a system of records that could inform prospective purchasers or planners of real estate about the ownership and condition of the title. This serves to protect, the Guide continues, innocent lenders and prospective purchasers against unknown title defects, such as undisclosed encumbrances or liens. However, the protections of recording statutes are not available for prospective purchasers or lenders who take title with actual notice of title defects or other unrecorded instruments.

Once a deed is recorded, that act generally creates a rebuttable presumption that the deed was delivered to the grantee. A recorded document also creates constructive notice that interested parties are aware of the contents of the recorded instrument. For example, California Civil Code § 2934 states, “[a]ny assignment of a mortgage and any assignment of the beneficial interest under a deed of trust may be recorded, and from the time the same is filed for record operates as constructive notice of the contents thereof to all persons. . .” In California, individuals with an interest in a title must record certain changes to that title. For example, California Civil Code § 2932.5 requires recording where “a power to sell is given to a mortgagee, or other encumbrancer.” Additionally, California Business and Professions Code § 10233.2 requires recording when real property is used as collateral for a promissory note.

2) The official transcript of a trial or public hearing, including in the case of a trial all evidence introduced. For example, in establishing the procedures for how courts review findings of fact by administrative agencies, the Administrative Procedure Act § 706(2)(E) requires a court to overturn an agency finding of fact if it was “unsupported by substantial evidence. . . on the record.”

3) In the commercial context, the Uniform Commercial Code §1–201(b)(31) defines record as “information inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.” This could include a balance sheet; a listing of financial transactions, including inflows (income) and outflows (payment of expenses) for a business; or corporate minutes.

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]