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Probable Applicable laws: Negotiatiable Instruments Act, Consumer Protection Act Jurisdiction: India

Scenario: A, and B have different banks. A issued an account payable cheque to B for an amount of Rs. 1000/- on say 01IX2022. The cheque was presented on 03IX2022 by B's Bank to A's Bank. Due diligence done, A's bank honoured the cheque; the funds were debited from A's account.

A week later on 10IX2022, B's bank again presented the same cheque to A's bank. Doing due diligence, A's bank noted the cheque number had already been consumed i.e. presented, and honoured on 03IX2022. Ergo, this time around the cheque was dishonoured.

Later A learns of a similar episode between C, and B.

IANAL. From my perusal of the NI Act (I only looked at Section 138) the cheque was dishonoured on technical (invalid cheque number), rather than financial grounds. Hence NI Act may not apply. B's Bank however appear to be lax in their queue management at the very least.

I'm of the opinion that there is a case for dereliction of duty against B's bank. What law/s apply?

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  • 2
    Did B get their money?
    – user35069
    Sep 11, 2022 at 17:32
  • Yes. There was no reason for the instrument to be enqueued again.
    – Everyone
    Sep 11, 2022 at 18:14
  • 2
    Has anyone involved lost money or suffered other harm as a result of this? Sep 11, 2022 at 19:52
  • @JustAnotherCoder: Mental harassment because of the notification from the banks that a cheque was dishonoured. There was no monetary loss -unless the effort in communication with the bank is counted...
    – Everyone
    Sep 16, 2022 at 6:56

1 Answer 1

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It seems as if the payments system properly transferred money from A to B.

The only harm, if any, would be if either of the banks charged customer A or customer B a dishonored instrument fee. In this situation, the customer charged the fee would probably have grounds to protest those charges because they were purely due to an error by B's Bank though no fault of either A or B or A's bank.

I'm of the opinion that there is a case for dereliction of duty against B's bank.

Why?

A's bank correctly refrained from paying the same check twice, when the check was wrongfully presented to it a second time by B's bank. B's bank shouldn't have presented the same check twice, but since the check wasn't paid twice, no significant harm was done. The dereliction of duty would have occurred if A's bank had paid the same check twice and thus harmed A, its customer. But, as the events played out, it was merely a minor goof and if they had played out differently, they would have harmed A rather than its own customer.

It was a minor bureaucratic snafu that could have hurt a non-customer, not a dereliction of duty to its own customer.

If were were B, I'd seriously consider moving my business to a different bank, since this might be the tip of the iceberg of bad management of the bank generally, and I'd protest any dishonored check fee, but that would be it.

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  • To the best of my knowledge there can't be a dishonoured cheque fee in this instance. The cheque was dishonoured on technical grounds rather than paucity of funds, or a specific stop payment notice.
    – Everyone
    Sep 16, 2022 at 6:58
  • @Everyone Dishonored cheque fees are a function of the banks fee schedule, to the extent it isn't regulated by banking regulators. The negotiable instruments law, for example, would say nothing about what you may or may not charge fees for.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 16, 2022 at 20:00
  • Got you. I do know from A that no charges were levied. I'll find out for B, and C.
    – Everyone
    Sep 18, 2022 at 4:31

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