Failure to pay for delivered goods

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I bought several units of personal computers for the small shop that I will open in two months. The units were already delivered to me and I have paid 50 percent of the total value of the units in cash, while the other 50 percent will be taken from my checking account for which I issued two checks. The problem is that my checking account no longer has enough money to cover the amounts of the two checks because I withdrew most of it to pay for the hospitalization of my wife. I already explained my situation to the manager of the store where I bought the computers, but he told me that I need to settle my balance within the week or else they will file a case for B.P. 22 against me. Can they possibly file the case against me? Please help.
Gino

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Dear Gino,
There exists a contract between you and the seller of the personal computers. Accordingly, your respective obligations must be complied with in good faith. On your part, it is incumbent upon you to pay the full amount representing the value of the computers you purchased considering that these were already delivered to you.

The seller may institute the appropriate case against you through its authorized representatives should you fail to pay the remaining 50 percent balance of the total contract price. They may file a civil case for collection of sum of money if you will not be able to settle your obligation with them within the period stipulated in your contract or within the period granted in your favor from their last demand.

Insofar as filing a criminal complaint against you for violation of the provisions of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law, we believe that, at this point in time, this is not possible. It is worth mentioning that a person may commit the crime under B.P. 22 in two ways. First, by making or drawing and issuing any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with his drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, and such check is subsequently dishonored by his drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment. Second, by making or drawing and issuing any check at the time he has sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank but fails to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of 90 days from the date appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank (Section 1, B.P. 22).

In the situation that you have presented before us, it is apparent that you issued the two checks when you still had sufficient funds in your bank account, but you failed to maintain sufficient funds to answer for your balance with the seller for reasons you mentioned. However, there is no showing that these checks were already presented to the drawee bank and that the same have been dishonored. Since an essential element of the second mode of committing the crime under B.P. 22 is lacking, filing a complaint against you at this time will not hold water.

Nonetheless, the seller is not barred from instituting the criminal action against you should they have presented those checks, the same be dishonoured by the drawee bank, and you still fail to settle the value representing those checks.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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