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CHEQUE MUST BE CROSSED WHEN PAID IN. 61
The section only affords protection where the banker has received a cheque already crossed, and not where he crosses an uncrossed cheque for collection under s. 77. (Bissell v. Fox, 51 L. T. R. 663, 53 L. T. R. 193; and cf. Gordon v. City and Midland Bank, supra.)
By s. 95 the provisions of the Act as to crossed cheques are made applicable to dividend warrants.
To obliterate, add to or alter a crossing, special or general, of a cheque, or knowingly offer or utter, etc., a cheque so altered, with intent to defraud, is a felony punishable with penal servitude for life. (24 & 25 Vict. c. 98, s. 25.)
It is provided by s. 17 of the Revenue Act, 1883, that s. 25[of 24 and 25 Vict. c. 98, and ss. 76 to 82 of the Bills of Exchange Act, shall extend to “any document issued by a customer of any banker and intended to enable any person or body corporate to obtain payment from such banker of the sum mentioned in such document ... and shall extend in like manner as if the said document were a cheque. Provided that nothing in this Act shall be deemed to render such a document a negotiable instrument.”
Thus a cheque with a receipt form attached, and running “Pay . . provided the receipt at the foot hereof be duly signed,” may be a cheque within ss. 76 to 82, though, by reason of the conditional form, it falls without the rest of the Act. (J. Bavins, Junr. V. London and S.-W. Bank, 5 Com. Cas. 1, in which case the banker was deprived of the protection of s. 82, as he had not acted without negligence.) Paget (" Decisions affecting Bankers,” p. 295) regards s. 17 as only extending protection to cases where the banker collects for the original payee of such documents.
BLANK CHBQUES AND IMPERFECT CHEQUES-FRAUDULENT
FILLING IN AND ALTERATION OF AMOUNT-THE
WORDS AND FIGURES-MATERIAL ALTERATION
CRIMES RELATING TO FORGERY, ETC., OF CHEQUES.
52.-When a simple signature on a blank form of cheque is delivered by the signer in order that it may be converted into a cheque, it operates as a primâ facie authority to fill it up as a complete cheque for any amount; and in like manner, when a cheque is wanting in any material particular, the person in possession of it has a primâ facie authority to fill up the omission in any way he thinks fit.
(a) In order that any such instrument when completed may be enforceable against any person who became a party thereto prior to its completion, it must be filled up within a reasonable time, and strictly in accordance with the authority given. Reasonable time for this purpose is a question of fact.
(a) See Flower v. Shaw, 2 C. & K. 703. The plaintiff, a secretary, without authority filled up a cheque drawn by directors for an amount he alleged was due to him. Held, even if such sum was due, the cheque was a forgery and the plaintiff could not recover. Cf. also R. v. Wilson, 2 C. & K. 527.
YOUNG V. GROTE.
Provided that, if any such instrument after completion is negotiated to a holder in due course, it shall be valid and effectual for all purposes in his hands, and he may enforce it as if it had been filled up within a reasonable time and strictly in accordance with the authority given. (S. 20.)
See cases cited in notes to 88 28 and 37. A cheque handed to a payee is not negotiated to a holder in due course within ss. 20, 21 and 29. There can be no “negotiation” to an immediate party. (Lewis v. Clay, 67 L. J. Q. B. 224; Herdman v. Wheeler, 1902, 1 K. B. 472.)
53.—Where the sum payable is expressed in words and also in figures, and there is a discrepancy between the two, the sum denoted by the words is the amount payable. (S. 9 (2).)
A banker, though justified in paying the amount in words, would in practice return such a cheque with answer, “Words and figures differ." (See Moxon, Practical Banking, 10th ed. p. 9.)
The words, however, are the governing and only essential part of the cheque, so far as the amount payable is concerned.
In Garrard v. Lewis, 10 Q. B. D. 30, the amount was inserted in figures only. A holder inserted a
THE RATIO DECIDENDI NOT CLEAR.
larger sum in words, and altered the figures to correspond.
The drawer was held liable on the bill as altered, to a holder in due course. It was legally immaterial that the figures had been altered to suit the words, inasmuch as, even if they had not, the amount denoted in words would have been the amount payable. The amount in words should, therefore, be always filled in before issue.
54.-Where a cheque is so carelessly (b) filled up by the drawer, both as to words and figures, that it is capable of fraudulent alteration to a larger amount, and the cheque is so altered, and the alteration is not apparent, and the banker on whom the cheque is drawn pays the larger amount without negligence, then, as between the banker and the drawer, the loss falls on the drawer.
This embodies the much-criticized decision in Young v. Grote, 4 Bing. 253.
It is very strongly submitted that it is good law. It by no means conflicts with cases where there was in fact no negligence, because there was no duty. It is not denied that there is a duty on a customer to draw cheques with reasonable
The loss fell on the drawer in this case,
(6) Unless the customer is negligent, any loss consequent upon a fraudulent alteration falls on the banker (Hall v. Fuller, 5 B. & C. 750, etc.)
YOUNG V. GROTE.
because he had in point of fact neglected that duty.
The facts were these : Young left & blank cheque with his wife to be filled up to pay wages. Worcester, his clerk, filled it up for 501. 28. 3d., and showed it so filled up to Mrs. Young, who sanctioned it, although Worcester had left space enough to alter the amount. Afterwards Worcester altered the sum payable to 3501. 28. 3d., and the alteration was in no way apparent. The defendant, the banker, paid this sum to Worcester.
It was held that he could debit Young's account with 3501. 28. 3d., "as he had been misled by a want of proper caution on the part of his customer" (Best, C.J., at p. 260), and "as the blame is all on one side” (Burrough, J., at p. 260), and as "there was certainly great negligence on the part of Young" (Gaselee, J., at p. 261).
This case has been frequently adversely criticized.
In Scholfield v. Londesborough, 1896, A. C. 514, the respondent accepted a bill for 5001., which was so drawn that S., the drawer, was enabled to alter it, without its being apparent, to 3,5001.
The House of Lords decided that a holder in due course could only recover 5001.
Halsbury, L.C., at p. 522, says Young v. Grote must be examined to see “how far it ought to be quoted as an authority for anything," and he