G.R. No. 112392, 29 February 2000, SCRA 641
A certain Henry Chan owned a Continental Bank Manager’s Check payable to “cash”. Chan went to the office of Benjamin Napiza and requested him to deposit the check in his dollar account by way of accommodation and for the purpose of clearing the same. Private respondent acceded, and agreed to deliver to Chan a signed blank withdrawal slip, with the understanding that as soon as the check is cleared, both of them would go to the bank to withdraw the amount of the check upon private respondent’s presentation to the bank of his passbook. Napiza thus endorsed the check and deposited it in a Foreign Currency Deposit Unit (FCDU) Savings Account he maintained with BPI. Using the blank withdrawal slip given by private respondent to Chan, one Ruben Gayon, Jr. was able to withdraw the amount from Napiza’s FCDU account. It turned out that said check deposited by private respondent was a counterfeit check.
When BPI demanded the return of the money, private respondent claimed that he deposited the check “for clearing purposes” only to accommodate Chan.
Petitioner claims that private respondent, having affixed his signature at the dorsal side of the check, should be liable for the amount stated therein in accordance with the provision of the Negotiable Instruments Law on the liability of a general indorser.
Whether private respondent is obliged to return the money paid out by BPI on a counterfeit check even if he deposited the check “for clearing purposes” only to accommodate Chan.
Ordinarily private respondent may be held liable as an indorser of the check or even as an accommodation party. However, petitioner BPI, in allowing the withdrawal of private respondent’s deposit, failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of a family. BPI violated its own rules by allowing the withdrawal of an amount that is definitely over and above the aggregate amount of private respondent’s dollar deposits that had yet to be cleared. The proximate cause of the eventual loss of the money on BPI’s part was its personnel’s negligence in allowing such withdrawal in disregard of its own rules and the clearing requirement in the banking system. In so doing, BPI assumed the risk of incurring a loss on account of a forged or counterfeit foreign check and hence, it should suffer the resulting damage.
It is thus clear that ordinarily private respondent may be held liable as an indorser of the check or even as an accommodation party. However, to hold private respondent liable for the amount of the check he deposited by the strict application of the law and without considering the attending circumstances in the case would result in an injustice and in the erosion of the public trust in the banking system. The interest of justice thus demands looking into the events that led to the encashment of the check.
*Case digest by Lowel Dave D. Manuel, JD-4, Andres Bonifacio Law School, S.Y. 2019-2020