Q: After harrying a client for quite a while, they finally stumped up with a postdated cheque. The only problem is that, when I lodged it, the cheque bounced! I’m absolutely furious – what are my legal options?
A: The first thing to note is that there may well be an innocent explanation – either an honest mistake about what money would be in the account on the day you cashed it, or an unexpected delay in processing another payment. After all, it doesn’t make sense to issue a cheque that will bounce, because the issuer gets hit with charges, and it won’t look great if they’re seeking credit either. In any case, the company will have been informed about it by their bank.
I reckon your first action should be an initial call to the company itself, asking them to put through a bank transfer immediately. Depending on how close they are, you can call in personally and gauge the situation – if they were simply caught short and are prepared to pay what they can when they can, that’s a very different situation to a can-pay-but-won’t attitude.
In the worst case scenario, having a cheque that bounced (rather than being stopped by the issuer) is a big advantage if you need to take legal action: after all, it’s an acknowledgement that a debt exists, so it would be a lot harder for the company to claim they shouldn’t pay up. If this company were intending to stiff you, sending out a cheque was a very silly thing to do.
For that reason, I’d be inclined to approach this assuming a genuine mistake. Your frustration is pretty understandable, but I’d try to resolve it amicably before getting a solicitor to seek a judgement against the firm.
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