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Such an acknowledgment is frequently made in au abbreviated form, thus:

To Mr. A. B.

London, 1st January, 1858.

IO U one hundred pounds.

C. D.

An acknowledgment in this form is called an I O U, and is evidence that at the time when it was made, there was a balance of accounts in favour of the party to whom it was given, and for the amount specified. An instrument which is defective as a promissory note may sometimes be good as an I O U.

2. Being merely evidence of the existence of debt, it requires no stamp. It is neither a promissory note nor a receipt, but, except that it cannot be negotiated and circulated, it has all the effect of a promissory note payable on demand; for a debt is acknowledged to be due, and may be sued for at any time.

3. It is always desirable to adhere strictly to the above form, for, if words be added expressing a promise to pay the amount on a particular day, the instrument would then be a promissory note, and could not be given in evidence without a stamp. Again, the addition of certain other words might make the document amount to an agreement, in which case, if over £20, it would require a stamp. In this case, however, there is less danger, for an agreement may be stamped after it is written, or even at the trial, on payment of a fine, but a promissory note cannot.

4. If the name of the person to whom it is addressed, does not appear on the I O U, it will, primâ facie, be taken as evidence of a debt due to the person who produces it; but this the defendant may, of course, rebut.

To avoid difficulties, the creditor's name should always be mentioned, as in the form given above.



A short statement of the legal effect of the several forms is made, for the reader's convenience, to accompany this chapter; but, for fuller information, those parts of the work, which treat of the subjects in question, should be perused.

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The word "Accepted" may be omitted.

This bill is without indorsement, payable only to Geoffrey Stiles, the payee, who is also the drawer. When indorsed in blank by him, (i. e., by simply writing his name on the back), it becomes payable to bearer, but may be indorsed by any number of other persons through whose hands it circulates.

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This bill is, without indorsement, payable only to Oliver Kempe, the payee. When indorsed in blank by

him it becomes payable to bearer, but may be endorsed by any number of persons through whose hands it circulates.

[With regard to special indorsements, converting blank into special indorsements, so as to avoid liability, and other matters connected with indorsements, see chapter iv, on "Transfers."]


If the words " or my order," and or order," were omitted in the above bills, they would still be indorsable by Geoffrey Stiles and Oliver Kempe. But if after Oliver Kempe's name there were added the words " and him only or like words, he could not transfer by indorsement. The words "or bearer" may be used instead of the above, and then the bill will be payable without indorsement to whomever presents it.

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Instead of the word "date," the word "sight" may be inserted, and then the bill will be payable six months after acceptance, and in that case a date should be appended to the acceptance. (See chap. vi, sec. 5.)

In the latter example above given, the words "payable at Messrs. Drummonds'," still leave the acceptance a general one, and, in order merely to charge the acceptor, the holder is not bound to present the bill anywhere; but to charge the drawer and indorsers, it must have been presented at the bank named.

But if the words, "payable at Messrs. Drummonds,' and there only," had followed the signature, the acceptance would be special, and the bill must be presented at the place named, even for the purpose of charging the acceptor.

[For further information, see chap. vi, on "Acceptance."]

£100 Os. Od.

London, May 17th, 1858. On demand, pay to me or my order, [or to A B or his order] the sum of One Hundred pounds, value received.

To Mr. Henry Moore,

No. 2, Fleet Street.


This bill needs no acceptance, but resembles in other respects the bills above mentioned.

£50 0s. Od.


London, May 18th, 1858.

On demand, I promise to pay [at Messrs. Drummonds', Charing Cross] to Humphrey Reed, or his order, Fifty pounds, value received.


This note, omitting the words in brackets, is payable generally and need not be presented at all to charge the maker, and may be presented to the maker anywhere in order to charge the indorsers. But, if the words in brackets are inserted, the note is like a bill accepted at a certain place only, and must be presented at that place (though not necessarily to the maker) in order to charge either the maker or the indorsers. If the words indicating the place of payment, instead of being in the body, were in a memorandum written across or at foot, the note would be payable generally just as if those words had been omitted, and presentment for payment need not be made there in order to charge the maker, and may be made anywhere in order to charge the indorsers. (See B. of Exch. Act, s. 87 in the preceding chapter.)

Instead of on demand, the note may be made payable so many days, weeks, or months after date, or after sight. After sight, in case of notes, means merely after exhibition to the maker.

A note for less than £20 payable to bearer on demand must be made payable where issued, but may also be payable elsewhere.

A note for less than £5 payable to bearer on demand is thought to be void, but the statutes on the subject are confusing. (See "Chalmers on Bills," art. 284.)


£50 Os. Od.

London, May 19th, 1858.

Two months after date, we and each of us, [or we jointly and severally promise to pay to William Shakespere, or order, the sum of Fifty pounds, value received.



By omitting the words in the above form between "we"

and "promise" the note may be made a joint note; but such a form would be found very inconvenient. (See chap. xix, sec. 1.)

A note beginning "I promise," and signed by more than one person, is several as well as joint. (See chap. xix, sec. 1.)

The words "or order," as in the case of bills, render indorsement necessary. Like bills, notes may be payable to bearer.


It is not every Joint Stock Company that can bind itself by these instruments (see chap. ii), but the Companies' Act, 1862, has provided, in sec. 47, that such Joint Stock Companies as can bind themselves by bills and notes at all will be bound by a signature made in the company's name by an authorized person or by a signature made by an authorized person on behalf of the company. It is better to have both, as accepted for the Indian Tea Company, Limited, and by its authority, John Johnson, managing director.'


But a bill or note or other instrument requiring signature by a corporation will be sufficiently signed if sealed with the corporate seal.-B. of Exch. Act,

sec. 91.

Where any bill, note, cheque, or other instrument in writing is required to be signed by any person, it is not necessary that he should sign it with his own hand, but it is sufficient if his signature is written thereon by some other person by or under his authority. (See B. of Exch. Act, sec. 91.)

Where the time limited for doing any act or thing is less than three days (non-business days are excluded in reckoning time). Non-business days are Sunday, Good Friday, and Christmas Day; a bank holiday, namely, Easter Monday, the Monday in Whitsun week, the first Monday in August, and the 26th of December if a week day, otherwise the 27th, and any day proclaimed a bank holiday under the Statute; public fast or thanksgiving days appointed by proclamation. All other days are business days.

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