The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) covers the check collection process under Article 3 and 4, and various terms have been used to denote checks such as â€œdraftâ€ or â€œitem.â€ Under the code, the process commences with the deposit of the check by the payee into the account held by them in the depository bank, which seeks further payment from the payor bank by presenting the Check. The term â€œpresentationâ€ has been defined under the UCC as a check which is payable on demand. To make this process easier for everyday transactions, banks often enter into â€œclearing houseâ€ arrangements that involve central depositories. Banks settle the total amounts owed to each other by exchanging checks at regular intervals. A very important aspect of the check collection process is â€œsettlementâ€. Aprovisional settlement is made when the depository bank credits the account of the payee on presentation, and this can be subsequently revoked by the bank. Once the payor bank pays the amount, the settlement becomes final. Historically, checks were payable physically through payment systems, but today, federal law provides for electronic check processing.
There are two conditions that must be fulfilled to ensure the check is honored by the payor bank â€“
The check must be â€œproperly payableâ€ and fulfill the requisite criteria for payment.
There must be sufficient balance in the drawerâ€™s account at the payor bank
After a check is presented to the bank, the bank must make a decision on whether it would honor or dishonor the check by the â€œmidnight deadline,â€ which is the midnight of the next banking day following the day of receipt of the check. A â€œbanking dayâ€ refers to any normal day when the bank is conducting business, and often, banks set a time-limit of 2 pm, and any item received to post this time may be treated as received on the following day. If the payor bank misses the deadline and the check is deemed to be finally paid, however, the drawerâ€™s account is subsequently found to have insufficient funds. The bank may still be able to recover losses from other entities through any provisions of warranty, fraud, or restitution.
Common Issues in Check Settlements:
Stop Orders: Sometimes, a customer might wish to stop payment after issuing the check, and in such cases, the customer must be able to identify the check with â€œreasonable certaintyâ€ and send a stop order to the bank with the specified time limit. An oral stop order is valid for 14 days, while a written one has a 6 month validity.
Post-Dated Checks: Sometimes, a drawer will write a date on the check later than its issue or â€œpost-dateâ€ it to ensure adequate funds are available at the date of payment. Since the MICR line, which contains details on the routing, account, and check number does not have the date encoded, and banks generally process checks mechanically. The UCC makes provisions for reasonable notification to the bank for such checks.
Dishonor: Banks may often face significant liability for wrongful dishonor of checks when it should have been paid due to the emotional distress or harm to business transactions caused by such actions.
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