G.R. No. 85419, 9 March 1993, 219 SCRA 736
In consideration for a loan extended by petitioner Bank to respondent Sima Wei, the latter executed and delivered to the former a promissory note, engaging to pay the petitioner Bank or order the amount of P1,820,000.00 on or before June 24, 1983 with interest at 32% per annum. Sima Wei made partial payments on the note.
Sima Wei issued two crossed checks payable to petitioner Bank drawn against China Banking Corporation. The said checks were allegedly issued in full settlement of the drawer’s account evidenced by the promissory note. These two checks were not delivered to the petitioner-payee or to any of its authorized representatives.
For reasons not shown, these checks came into the possession of respondent Lee Kian Huat, who deposited the checks without the petitioner-payee’s indorsement (forged or otherwise) to the account of respondent Plastic Corporation, at the Balintawak branch, Caloocan City, of the Producers Bank. Cheng Uy, Branch Manager of the Balintawak branch of Producers Bank, relying on the assurance of respondent Samson Tung, President of Plastic Corporation, that the transaction was legal and regular, instructed the cashier of Producers Bank to accept the checks for deposit and to credit them to the account of said Plastic Corporation, inspite of the fact that the checks were crossed and payable to petitioner Bank and bore no indorsement of the latter. Hence, petitioner filed the complaint as aforestated.
On July 6, 1986, the Development Bank of Rizal (petitioner Bank for brevity) filed a complaint for a sum of money against respondents Sima Wei and/or Lee Kian Huat, Mary Cheng Uy, Samson Tung, Asian Industrial Plastic Corporation (Plastic Corporation for short) and the Producers Bank of the Philippines. Except for Lee Kian Huat, defendants filed their separate Motions to Dismiss alleging a common ground that the complaint states no cause of action. The trial court granted the defendants’ Motions to Dismiss. The Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, to which the petitioner Bank, represented by its Legal Liquidator, filed this Petition for Review by Certiorari.
Whether petitioner Bank has a cause of action against any or all of the defendants, in the alternative or otherwise.
The normal parties to a check are the drawer, the payee and the drawee bank. Courts have long recognized the business custom of using printed checks where blanks are provided for the date of issuance, the name of the payee, the amount payable and the drawer’s signature. All the drawer has to do when he wishes to issue a check is to properly fill up the blanks and sign it. However, the mere fact that he has done these does not give rise to any liability on his part, until and unless the check is delivered to the payee or his representative.
A negotiable instrument, of which a check is, is not only a written evidence of a contract right but is also a species of property. A negotiable instrument must be delivered to the payee in order to evidence its existence as a binding contract.
Section 16 of the Negotiable Instruments Law, which governs checks, provides in part:Every contract on a negotiable instrument is incomplete and revocable until delivery of the instrument for the purpose of giving effect thereto. . . .
Thus, the payee of a negotiable instrument acquires no interest with respect thereto until its delivery to him. Delivery of an instrument means transfer of possession, actual or constructive, from one person to another. Without the initial delivery of the instrument from the drawer to the payee, there can be no liability on the instrument. Moreover, such delivery must be intended to give effect to the instrument.
The allegations of the petitioner in the original complaint show that the two (2) China Bank checks, numbered 384934 and 384935, were not delivered to the payee, the petitioner herein. Without the delivery of said checks to petitioner-payee, the former did not acquire any right or interest therein and cannot therefore assert any cause of action, founded on said checks, whether against the drawer Sima Wei or against the Producers Bank or any of the other respondents.
Notwithstanding the above, it does not necessarily follow that the drawer Sima Wei is freed from liability to petitioner Bank under the loan evidenced by the promissory note agreed to by her. Her allegation that she has paid the balance of her loan with the two checks payable to petitioner Bank has no merit for, as We have earlier explained, these checks were never delivered to petitioner Bank. And even granting, without admitting, that there was delivery to petitioner Bank, the delivery of checks in payment of an obligation does not constitute payment unless they are cashed or their value is impaired through the fault of the creditor. None of these exceptions were alleged by respondent Sima Wei.
Therefore, unless respondent Sima Wei proves that she has been relieved from liability on the promissory note by some other cause, petitioner Bank has a right of action against her for the balance due thereon.
However, insofar as the other respondents are concerned, petitioner Bank has no privity with them. Since petitioner Bank never received the checks on which it based its action against said respondents, it never owned them (the checks) nor did it acquire any interest therein. Thus, anything which the respondents may have done with respect to said checks could not have prejudiced petitioner Bank. It had no right or interest in the checks which could have been violated by said respondents. Petitioner Bank has therefore no cause of action against said respondents, in the alternative or otherwise. If at all, it is Sima Wei, the drawer, who would have a cause of action against her co-respondents, if the allegations in the complaint are found to be true.
*Case Digest by Doreena Pauline V. Aranal, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020