• Check is proof of obligation to pay

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    dearpao
    Dear PAO,
    A businesswoman gave me a postdated check to secure her promise to return the P56, 000 I gave her. On its due date, I deposited the check to my bank account. To my surprise, the check did not clear. The bank returned the check because there was a stop payment order although it is funded. I tried to contact the businesswoman but it appears that she is avoiding me. What case can I file against her? Is she guilty of BP 22?

    Thank you and best regards,
    Fernando

    Dear Fernando,
    We are of the opinion that the businesswoman who issued the check is not guilty of violating the Bouncing Check Law or Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 22.

    There are two modes of violating the said law. The first mode, which is relevant to your case, is committed by issuing a check to apply on account or for value knowing at the time of issue that the check is not sufficiently funded, and the check is subsequently dishonored by reason of insufficiency of fund, or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, order the bank to stop payment. On the other hand, the second mode is committed by issuing a check which is sufficiently funded at the time of issue, but the issuer failed to maintain a credit with the drawee bank to pay for the check if presented within 90 days from the date thereof, for which reason it is dishonored (Sec. 1, B.P. Blg. 22).

    From the foregoing, it can be gleaned that one factor which is essential to constitute violation of B.P. 22 is the check is either dishonored, or would have been dishonored if not for a stop payment order, for the reason that the issuer has insufficient fund with the bank to pay for the check. The dishonor should be caused by the insufficiency of fund. In your case, the check was returned by the bank for the reason that there was a stop payment order, but the bank also wrote on the check that the account was funded. We take this statement as saying that there is sufficient balance on the issuer’s account to pay the full amount of the check. The important factor of insufficiency of fund is missing. Therefore, there is no violation of the Bouncing Check Law.

    Nevertheless, it does not mean that you have no legal recourse against the issuer of the check. Neither does it mean that the check can no longer be used for any purpose.

    You may still file an action for a sum of money to compel the businesswoman to pay the money you gave her. For this action, you may use the check to prove her obligation to pay.

    A check is defined as a draft drawn upon a bank and payable on demand, signed by the drawer, containing an unconditional promise to pay a sum certain in money to the order of the payee (Moran vs. CA, 230 SCRA 799 [1994]). It is an evidence of the debt of the person issuing them (Travel-On, Inc. vs. CA, 210 SCRA 351 [1992]).

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Thank you for your trust and support to this column and our office.

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