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January 7, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

If I pay someone with a cheque/check and they lose it am I legally required to issue them another one?

This is a purely hypothetical question, I'm just curious.

If I pay someone, let's say my landlord with a cheque/check and he losses it, do I have to give him a new one? I'm not interested in the morals of the question, (in real life I would just write another cheque), just the legalities of it. I'm in Quebec so any Canada specific answers are appreciated, though I'm interested in answers from other countries too.

My argument boils down to the fact that a cheque is legal tender. If I give my landlord the same amount in cash and he lost it no one would reasonably except me to replace it. Am I creating a false dichotomy? Please back up legal claims with citations if possible!

posted by hector horace to Law & Government (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: When you give someone cash, the debt is paid. When you give someone a cheque, the debt is not paid, and is not paid until it clears. Therefore, yes you are legally obligated to replace the cheque in order to pay your debt.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you have a contract and that contract requires you to pay someone then, yes, you are required to pay them. A check is more easily traceable than cash. Easy to cancel and remit. However, if there was a fee involved in canceling and re-submitting a check you would probably be in bounds to subtract that fee from the new check amount. Though that wouldn't garner you much good will. Which you're not asking about.
posted by amanda at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2010

Best answer: A check is usually NOT considered legal tender. So, yes, false dichotomy.
posted by jckll at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have no idea about the law concerning this, but I don't think a check is legal tender. It'd be a bank note, good to exchange for legal tender.

So, until the check is cashed or deposited you haven't imparted any funds to this person. I'd say it's the transfer of money that's an issue, not the imparting of the ability to do so.
posted by cmoj at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, until the cheque is successfully paid in by the recipient you're not out any money, which isn't the case when you hand over cash. A promise to pay X amount (which is what a cheque amounts to) is not the same as actually paying X amount in legal tender.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:46 AM on January 7, 2010

If just giving someone a check satisfied the legal conditions of payment of a debt, you could just stop payment on all your checks. As others have said, the debt isn't paid until the creditor has the money from the cleared check, not just the checking instrument.

A check is an order to pay money, not actual money.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

You could make an argument for deducting the stop payment fee on the prior check, if your bank charges one, but yeah, the rest of it's gotta get reissued.
posted by EatTheWeek at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2010

stop payment. then tell the guy you will issue another check if he deducts your expenses for stopping payment of the check you issued and he lost.
posted by Postroad at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why do you need to stop payment on a lost check? How is the finder, if it's found, gonna negotiate the check without ID stating that s/he is the original, intended payee?
posted by fixedgear at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2010

to fixedgear: because the finder of the check could be the original, intended payee, only now they have another check for the same amount also, so if they decide to deposit the original check too, the OP would be out twice the money.
posted by brainmouse at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2010

Response by poster: Alright, thanks everybody! I guess my wife wins that debate!
posted by hector horace at 11:57 AM on January 7, 2010

Data point: the morons at the bank will cash pretty much anything without looking closely at it. it has happened to me (cashing for the wrong amount, or before the date on the cheque).
posted by klanawa at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2010

You say you are in Canada, check this out.
If you put a stop payment on that cheque and then write a 2nd one. The person can take both cheques to moneymart and cash them, then moneymart will sue you for the value of the stopped cheque and Money Mart will win. Now you are out twice the money.
posted by Iax at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2010

I was going to jump in and say exactly what lax said. Scarry stuff!
posted by saradarlin at 9:31 PM on January 7, 2010

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