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THE Editors have endeavoured to include the recent cases and statutes in this Edition, but the Finance Act of 1899, c. 9, did not become law till June 20th. By sect. 4 of that Act marketable securities that now escape duty (i.e., not made or issued or bearing interest here), are, if negotiated after August 1st, to bear a stamp duty of 18. in the 101. By sect. 10 (1) the stamp on bills of over 501. drawn and payable abroad, if paid or negotiated here, is reduced to 6d. in the 1001. ; and by sect. 10 (2) the stamp on all bills payable not more than three days after date or sight is to be id. A rate of exchange for foreign currencies is also given in the Schedule, but that does not apply even for the purposes of the Stamp Act to bills or notes [vide sect. 12 (1), Act of 1899] which are (unless otherwise stipulated) calculated according to the rate for sight drafts of the day. Code, s. 72 (4) and 57 (2).



July 29th, 1899.



The Act to Codify the Law relating to Bills of Exchange, Cheques and Promissory Notes (45 & 46 Vict. c. 61) came into operation on the 18th of August, 1882, and introduced (with the exception of two sections, 53 (2) and 100) one uniform law for the whole of the United Kingdom.

As implied by the title, the changes introduced by the Act are not very numerous, the principal being—the recognition of the inherent negotiable quality of bills or notes even without the words “order or bearer," unless there be words prohibiting transfer or indicating that intention; and the equitable distribution of the loss occasioned by overholding a cheque when the bank fails in the interim. The holder of an office, for the time being, may now be payee, and payees may be entitled in the alternative; an indorsement may be conditional, but the party paying may disregard the condition. The duties of the holder with regard to presentment for acceptance, presentment for payment, notice of dishonour, and qualified acceptance, are clearly and amply set forth. A renunciation at maturity, to be a discharge of the bill, must be in writing, or the bill be delivered up. The rule, that the appointment of a debtor as executor operated as a release, had been already overridden in Equity, but it may be impliedly repealed by Section 61. Cheques are not necessarily inland, though, unless the contrary appear on their face, they may be treated as inland, as may all other bills or notes not showing the contrary. Restrictive indorsements and qualified acceptances are fully recognized; an acceptance, without more, of a bill drawn payable at a particular place being (as before) a general acceptance, so that the acceptor is liable even without presentment there, though not so the drawer and indorsers; but if the bill be accepted payable at a particular place, which requires presentment there to render the acceptor liable at all, a presentment there, too late to charge the drawer and indorsers, will yet charge the acceptor, in the absence of an express stipulation to the contrary.

Reasonable time within which to present a bill on demand, so as to charge the drawer or indorsers, is declared to be a mixed question of law and fact; but unreasonable time, after which an innocent transferee of such an instrument is affected with defects of title of which he had no notice, is made a question of fact only. Accommodating parties become liable as soon as value is given, and notice is immaterial. A non-apparent alteration will not affect a holder in due course.

In this Edition the chronological order has been followed: thus, the first ten Chapters are devoted to a description of the instrument, the next two to the title of the holder, the following six to his duties, and the remainder to his rights, how they may be lost or qualified, or enforced by action or proof in bankruptcy. The substance of each section of the Code appears in its appropriate place in the text, but the whole Act is given in the Appendix.



June 1st, 1885.



THERE is no vestige of the existence of bills of exchange among the ancients, and the precise period of their introduction is somewhat controverted. It is, however, certain that they were in use in the fourteenth century. Indeed,

* Il n'y a aucun vestige de notre contrat de change, ni des lettres de change, dans le droit Romain. Ce n'est qu'il n'arrivât quelquefois chez les Romains, que l'on comptât pour quelqu'un une somme d'argent dans un lieu à une personne, qui se chargeoit de lui en faire compter autant dans un autre lieu. Ainsi nous voyons, dans les lettres de Cicéron à Atticus, que Cicéron voulant envoyer son fils faire ses études à Athènes, s'informe si pour épargner à son fils de porter lui-même à Athènes l'argent dont il y auroit besoin, on ne trouveroit pas quelque occasion de le compter, à Rome, à quelqu'un qui se chargeroit de le lui faire compter à Athènes.--Epist. ad Att. xii. 24; xv. 25. Mais cela n'étoit pas la négociation de lettres de change telle qu'elle a lieu parmi nous; cela se faisoit par de simples mandats. Cicéron chargeoit quelqu'un de ses amis de Rome qui avoit de l'argent à recevoir à Athènes, de faire tenir de l'argent à son fils à Athènes; et cet ami, pour exécuter le mandat de Cicéron, écrivoit à quelqu'un des débiteurs qu'il avoit à Athènes, et le chargeoit de compter une somme d'argent au fils de Cicéron. Au reste, on ne voit point qu'il se practiquât chez les Romains, comme parmi nous, un commerce de lettres de change : et nous trouvons au contraire, en la loi 4, § 1, ff. de naut. Feen., qui est de Papinien, que ceux qui prétoient de l'argent à la grosse aventure aux marchands qui trafiquoient sur mer, envoyoient un de leurs esclaves pour recevoir de leur débiteur la somme prêtée lorsqu'il seroit arrivé au port où il devoit vendre ses marchandises; ce qui certainement n'aurait pas été nécessaire, si le commerce des lettres de change eût été en usage chez les Romains.

Quelques auteurs ont prétendu que l'usage du contrat de change et des lettres de change est venu de la Lombardie, et que les Juifs, qui y étoient établis, en ont été les inventeurs: d autres en attribuent l'inven

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