Bounced Or Dud Cheque And Its Legal Consequence In Nigeria

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Where there is sufficient fund in an account and all requirements to a cheque are present without a countermand order but a bank goes on to dishonour a cheque; such is a wrongful dishonour. Most often the bankers’ inexperience, negligence or laziness often cause their wrongful dishonour of cheques and a resultant breach of their obligation to honour and pay a customer’s cheque. It’s a breach of agreement between a bank and  accountholder, to honour accountholder’s cheque at all times when all requirements are met.

On opening of account with a bank, an accountholder enters into a legally enforceable contract with a bank; creating a duty on the bank to honour valid and regular cheques when there is sufficient fund, inter alia. Note, that all bankers, bank workers and  bank staff (by whatever title or appellation) in the bank are also bound by the contract you have with their employer (the bank) and their actions and inactions are considered to be that of the bank. Whatever a bank worker does in discharge of his bank work is deemed to have been done by the bank itself for the workers and staff of a bank is hands and legs of a bank (an incorporated and legal person);  because “quic facit per aleum facit per se” (he who acts through another acts through himself). Consequently, when bank staff breaches a bank-customer relationship by the wrongful dishonour of a cheque, the accountholder can seek for remedy in court for it raises contractual and criminal implications.

The wrongful dishonour of cheque by a bank prompts a lot of legal remedies to an  account owner (cheque drawer), since he can sue and claim damages for the negligence, breach of contract and for libel in civil. With libel as a criminal offence too, negligence, and criminal breach of trust, banks should be careful and diligent since all available legal options can be assessed by affected customers. Claims for damages for wrongful dishonour of cheque, are liquidated damages and that consists of the amount of money on the cheque, the interest thereon from the time of presentment for payment and expenses of noting and protest. With the above granted, that the accountholder would have been restore to his position before the wrongful dishonour; restitutio integram.

The dishonour of cheque is the dishonour of trust and a defamation by conduct which communicates to the payee and the drawer’s other business associates, colleagues and partners that the drawer is a liar, bankrupt, fraudster, cheat, common thief and no mean person that reaps where he didn’t sow and should not be associated with. Such a defamatory conduct goes a long way to affect the business and trade of the customer (drawer). Normally in law, defamation is not actionable per se in prove of special damages; meaning that any one that sues for defamation must prove actual and special damages occasioned by such defamation. But it is now well established in plethora of recent Supreme Court judgements; that an action for a breach of contract against a bank, for wrongful dishonour of a Trader’s cheque, is actionable per se and as such he is entitled to recover substantial and reasonable damages for injury to his commercial credit, without the necessity of alleging and proving actual damage. The term “Trader” has also been held to include a lot of unimaginable professionals, skilled and unskilled labourers, so that this line of damage is a protection and blessing to all banks’ customers and accountholders.    


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