Chapter 33 – Liability of Parties

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Chapter 33 – Liability of Parties

  1. 1. C H A P T E R 33 Liability of PartiesAlways do right.This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.Mark Twain, Speech to Young People’s Society (1901) 33-1
  2. 2. Learning Objectives• Explain difference between primary and secondary liability• List five warranties made to transfer negotiable instruments and three warranties made when presenting these for payment or acceptance• Discuss three exceptions to normal liability rules 33-2
  3. 3. Overview• If a person signs a negotiable instrument as maker, drawer, indorser, or some other capacity, the person is contractually liable to pay on the instrument• Liability also arises from: – (1) improper transfer or presentment of an instrument; (2) negligence in instrument issuance, alteration, or indorsement; (3) improper payment; or (4) conversion 33-3
  4. 4. Primary vs. Secondary Liability• A person may be primarily liable if s/he agreed to pay the negotiable instrument. – The maker of a promissory note is primarily liable for paying the debt• A person who is secondarily liable is a contract guarantor and, under UCC Article 3, must pay the instrument only if the person who is primarily liable defaults on the obligation 33-4
  5. 5. Acceptor and Drawee Liability• The acceptor of a draft must pay the draft according to the terms at the time of acceptance (drawee’s signed engagement to honor the draft as presented)• A drawee has no liability on a check or draft unless it certifies or accepts it – In Harrington v. MacNab, the drawee bank had no liability to a payee for a drawer’s insufficient funds 33-5
  6. 6. Indorser Liability• A person who indorses a negotiable instrument usually is secondarily liable – Indorsers are liable to each other in chronological order, from the last indorser back to the first• To trigger secondary liability, the instrument must be properly presented for payment or acceptance, the instrument must be dishonored, and notice of the dishonor must be given to the person secondarily liable 33-6
  7. 7. Discharge of Indorser Liability• An indorser is discharged from liability if: – A bank accepts a draft after indorsement [3–415(d)] – Notice of dishonor is required and proper notice is not given to the indorser [3–415(c)] – No one presents a check or gives it to a depositary bank for collection within 30 days after the date of an indorsement [3– 415(e)] 33-7
  8. 8. Signing an Instrument• No person is contractually liable for negotiable instrument unless s/he or an authorized agent has signed it – Signature is binding on the represented person – Signature can be any name, word, or mark used in place of a written signature [3–401]• Marion T, LLC v. Northwest Metals Processors, Inc. : if an agent or a representative signs negotiable instrument on behalf of someone else, agent should indicate clearly that signature was representative of someone else 33-8
  9. 9. Presentment of a Note• Since the maker of a note is primarily liable to pay it when due, dishonor occurs if the maker does not pay amount due when:2) it is presented in the case of (a) a demand note or (b) a note payable at or through a bank on a definite date and presented on or after that date, or3) if it is not paid on the date payable in the case of a note payable on a definite date (but not payable at or through a bank) [3–502] 33-9
  10. 10. Presentment of a Draft or Check• To obtain payment or acceptance on a draft or check, holder must present it to drawee by any commercially reasonable means – Written, oral, or electronic [3–501]• Drawee obligated when it accepts (certifies) 33-10
  11. 11. Warranty Liability• Person who transfers negotiable instrument or presents it for payment may have liability for implied warranties of presentment or transfer – Bank One, N.A. v. Streeter: Person who deposited checks to his account on which the payee’s name had been altered breached transfer warranties and was not entitled to enforce the instruments 33-11
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  14. 14. Mistake in Payment or Acceptance • Revised Article 3 follows general rule that payment or acceptance is final in favor of a holder in due course or payee who changes position in reliance on payment or acceptance – Bank bears burden of mistake 33-14
  15. 15. Other Liability Rules• Negligence: A person who writes a negotiable instrument so as to invite alteration may not use the alteration or lack of authorization as a reason for not paying a person that in good faith pays the instrument or takes it for value [3–406] 33-15
  16. 16. Other Liability Rules• Imposter rule: An impostor convinces a drawer to make a check payable to the person impersonated or an organization the person claims to represent. UCC makes any indorsement “substantially similar” to that of named payee effective [3– 404(a)] 33-16
  17. 17. Other Liability Rules• Fictitious payee rule: If someone writes a check to a fictitious payee, UCC allows any indorsement in the name of the fictitious payee to be effective as payee’s indorsement in favor of any person that pays instrument in good faith or takes it for value or for collection [3–404(b) and (c)] 33-17
  18. 18. Other Liability Rules• Fraudulent indorsements by employees: Revised Article 3 specifically addresses employer liability for fraudulent indorsements by employees, adopting rule that the risk of loss for indorsements by employees entrusted with responsibilities for instruments (primarily checks) should fall on employer rather than the bank that takes the check or pays it [3–405] 33-18
  19. 19. Victory Clothing Co., Inc. v. Wachovia Bank, N.A.• Facts and Decision: – Employee engaged in double forgery of checks and a depositary bank allowed forger to deposit the checks to her own personal account, violating its own banking procedures and rules – Employer sued bank for negligence – Court applied comparative negligence principles to split the loss between the company (30%) and the bank (70%) 33-19
  20. 20. Other Liability Rules• Conversion: Revised Article 3 provides that the law applicable to conversion of personal property applies to instruments 33-20
  21. 21. Discharge of Negotiable Instruments• An obligor is discharged from liability by:2. Payment of the instrument3. Cancellation of the instrument4. Alteration of the instrument5. Modification of principal’s obligation causing a loss to a surety or impairing collateral6. Unexcused delay in presentment or notice of dishonor with respect to a check7. Acceptance of a draft by a bank (e.g., if a check is certified by a bank) 33-21
  22. 22. Test Your Knowledge• True=A, False = B – When a person signs a negotiable instrument as maker, the person becomes contractually liable on the instrument. – The maker of a promissory note is secondarily liable for paying the debt. – A drawee has liability on a check or draft the moment it is presented for acceptance. 33-22
  23. 23. Test Your Knowledge• True=A, False = B – An indorser is not discharged from liability until the instrument is presented for payment or acceptance. – A person who transfers a negotiable instrument or presents it for payment may incur liability from implied warranties. – A person who indorses a negotiable instrument usually is secondarily liable. 33-23
  24. 24. Test Your Knowledge• Multiple Choice – Norbert worked in payroll for Will Co. and signed payroll checks. Norbert wrote a check to Bradley Pitte, a fictitious employee, took it to the bank with fake I.D., indorsed the back with “Pitte’s” signature, and was paid in cash. a) Bank is liable for wrongful acceptance b) Bank is not liable under the common law of conversion c) Bank is not liable under UCC liability rules 33-24
  25. 25. Test Your Knowledge• Multiple Choice – Which of the following is not a transferee warranty? a) Warrantor is entitled to enforce the instrument b) The drawer has sufficient funds to pay the instrument c) The instrument has not been altered d) All signatures are authentic or authorized 33-25
  26. 26. Thought Questions• What steps would you take to make sure that fictitious payees and fraudulent indorsement did not occur in your business? 33-26

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