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office; but in a note payable after date, e. g., "30 days after date," the date written on the instrument fixes the day of payment. Since the only purpose of the date is that indicated, the maker may regulate the day of payment by dating the instrument “back” or “ahead.” Thus, if on Jan. 1, 1910, he issued his note dated “Dec. 1, 1909,” payable "three months after date," it would be payable March 1, and not April 1, 1910. If the same instrument were dated Feb. 1, 1910, it would be payable May 1, 1910; and the instrument in such a case would be the valid obligation of the maker or drawer from the day of its issue on Jan. 1, notwithstanding it bore date a month later (106). If an instrument payable "three months after date” is issued undated, it is payable three months after the day of its issue (107). If such an instrument is issued on Jan. 1, 1910, but is dated by mistake “Jan. 1, 1909," the instrument is nevertheless payable three months after the day of its issue, i. e., April 1, 1910 (108).
The N. I. L. sums up the rules on this subject as follows:
Sec. 6. The validity and negotiable character of an instrument are not affected by the fact that: (1) It is not dated.
Sec. 17. (3) Where the instrument is not dated, it will be considered to be dated as of the time it was issued.
Sec. 11. Where the instrument, or an acceptance, or any indorsement thereon is dated, such date is deemed
(106) Pasmore v. North, 13 East, 517.
(107) Seldonridge v. Connable, 32 Ind. 375. As to the right of a holder to fill in the date in such a case, and the rights of the parties where a wrong date is inserted, see $8 53-55, below.
(108) Almich v, Downey, 45 Minn. 460.
prima facie to be the true date of the making, drawing, acceptance, or indorsement as the case may be.
Sec. 12. The instrument is not invalid for the reason only that it is ante-dated, or post-dated, provided this is not done for an illegal or fraudulent purpose. The person to whom an instrument so dated is delivered acquires the title thereto as of the date of delivery.
§ 43. Value received. The phrase "value received," or "for value received," so frequently inserted in promissory notes is not essential, and adds nothing to the force and effect of the instrument (109).
§ 44. Bills and notes defined. A recapitulation of the formal requisites of a bill and of a note in definitions would give us the following
“A bill of exchange is an unconditional order in writing addressed by one person to another, signed by the person giving it, requiring the person to whom it is addressed to pay on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time a sum certain in money to order, or to bearer” (110).
“A negotiable promissory note is an unconditional promise in writing made by one person to another, signed by the maker, engaging to pay on demand, or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money to order, or to bearer” (111).
(109) Neg. Inst. Law, sec, 6 (2).
INCEPTION. CONSIDERATION. ACCEPTANCE.
SECTION 1. INCEPTION OF INSTRUMENT AS AN OBLIGATION.
§ 45. Intentional signing. An instrument in every formal respect a completed promissory note or bill of exchange is of no legal effect, unless the maker or drawer signed the paper intending to sign a bill or note. Thus, in Walker v. Ebert (1), the defendant, a German unable to read and write English, was induced by the payees to sign an instrument, in form a promissory note, in reliance upon their false statements that it was a contract appointing the defendant agent to sell a patent right. The payees sold the instrument to the plaintiff, who knew nothing of the fraud. It was held that the defendant was not liable. The instrument, although complete in form, was not the defendant's note and the plaintiff acquired nothing by his purchase of the paper.
§ 46. Signing without reading: Carelessness. In such a case, however, the defendant may have been so careless in affixing his signature to a paper, of the contents of which he is ignorant, that it would be unjust to allow him to escape liability to the innocent purchaser. When this is true, the courts refuse to allow the apparent maker the
(1) 29 Wis. 194.
defence that he did not intentionally sign the note in question. Thus, in Chapman v. Rose (2), the defendant signed a document in form a promissory note for $270 payable to Miller, or bearer. The defendant, misled by the false statements of Miller, supposed he was signing the duplicate of an order for farm machinery, the original of which he had delivered to Miller a few moments before. The paper having passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser, it was held that the defendant was liable upon it. The court deemed the conduct of the defendant so careless, in signing without reading when he might have done so, that it was unjust to allow him to set up the defence that he did not intentionally sign a note.
$ 47. Carelessness a question of fact. The question, however, whether the defendant has been careless is one of fact about which courts and juries may differ, although there may be no dispute as to the rule of law. In Lewis v. Clay (3), Clay affixed his signature to instruments in the form of notes for upwards of $55,000 under the following circumstances: Lord Neville, whom the defendant had known intimately for some years, requested the defendant, soon after he became of age, to sign certain documents as witness of Neville's signature thereto. The face of the documents was covered with blotting paper, with holes clipped out leaving places for the defendant's signatures. Neville told the defendant that the documents related to family affairs of a private nature, the contents of which he would prefer the defendant not to see. The
(2) 56 N. Y. 137.
defendant, believing the statements of Neville, signed his name through the openings in the blotting paper. It was held that the defendant was not liable to an innocent purchaser of the documents. They were not the defendant's notes, nor did the court consider the defendant's conduct was such as to make it unjust for him to set up that he never intended to sign the notes.
§ 48. Intentional signing induced by fraud. The class of cases we have been discussing should be carefully distinguished from cases where the maker intended to make and sign the note upon which he is sued, but would not have intended to sign had he known the true facts. In Miller v. Finley (4), the defendant was induced to sign a note for the price of a worthless patent right, which was fraudulently represented by the payee to be a valuable invention. The payee sold the note to the plaintiff, who knew nothing of the fraud practiced upon the defendant. It was held that the defendant was liable. His intention to sign the note in dispute was unquestioned. He would not have signed had he known that the patent was valueless, but he did not know that fact and in consequence intended to sign. Of course, in such a case the payee who practiced the fraud could not recover upon the instrument, for the reason that it would be unjust to allow him to enforce the obligation and retain the proceeds, but not because the note was not a valid negotiable instrument.
§ 49. “Delivery." In addition to the intentional signing of the instrument, something further is necessary to give it an inception as an obligation. In order that the
(4) 26 Mich. 249.