When bank may charge customer's account.
(a) A bank may charge against the account of a customer an item that is properly payable from that account even though the charge creates an overdraft. An item is properly payable if it is authorized by the customer and is in accordance with any agreement between the customer and bank.
(b) A customer is not liable for the amount of an overdraft if the customer neither signed the item nor benefited from the proceeds of the item.
(c) A bank may charge against the account of a customer a check that is otherwise properly payable from the account, even though payment was made before the date of the check, unless the customer has given notice to the bank of the postdating describing the check with reasonable certainty. The notice is effective for the period stated in section 4-403(b) for stop-payment orders, and must be received at such time and in such manner as to afford the bank a reasonable opportunity to act on it before the bank takes any action with respect to the check described in section 4-303. If a bank charges against the account of a customer a check before the date stated in the notice of postdating, the bank is liable for damages for the loss resulting from its act. The loss may include damages for dishonor of subsequent items under section 4-402.
(d) A bank that in good faith makes payment to a holder may charge the indicated account of its customer according to:
(1) the original terms of the altered item; or
(2) the terms of the completed item, even though the bank knows the item has been completed unless the bank has notice that the completion was improper.
Source:Laws 1963, c. 544, Art. IV, § 4-401, p. 1829; Laws 1987, LB 241, § 2; Laws 1991, LB 161, § 102.
Under former law, bank liable to depositor where withdrawal slip bearing forged signatures was the basis for charge against depositor's account. Maddox v. First Westroads Bank, 199 Neb. 81, 256 N.W.2d 647 (1977).
Under former law, a payor bank may charge and even overdraw a customer's account on items properly payable. Berman v. United States Nat. Bank, 197 Neb. 268, 249 N.W.2d 187 (1976).
1. An item is properly payable from a customer's account if the customer has authorized the payment and the payment does not violate any agreement that may exist between the bank and its customer. For an example of a payment held to violate an agreement with a customer, see Torrance National Bank v. Enesco Federal Credit Union, 285 P.2d 737 (Cal.App. 1955). An item drawn for more than the amount of a customer's account may be properly payable. Thus under subsection (a) a bank may charge the customer's account for an item even though payment results in an overdraft. An item containing a forged drawer's signature or forged indorsement is not properly payable. Concern has arisen whether a bank may require a customer to execute a stop-payment order when the customer notifies the bank of the loss of an unindorsed or specially indorsed check. Since such a check cannot be properly payable from the customer's account, it is inappropriate for a bank to require a stop-payment order in such a case.
2. Subsection (b) adopts the view of case authority holding that if there is more than one customer who can draw on an account, the nonsigning customer is not liable for an overdraft unless that person benefits from the proceeds of the item.
3. Subsection (c) is added because the automated check collection system cannot accommodate postdated checks. A check is usually paid upon presentment without respect to the date of the check. Under the former law, if a payor bank paid a postdated check before its stated date, it could not charge the customer's account because the check was not "properly payable". Hence, the bank might have been liable for wrongfully dishonoring subsequent checks of the drawer that would have been paid had the postdated check not been prematurely paid. Under subsection (c) a customer wishing to postdate a check must notify the payor bank of its postdating in time to allow the bank to act on the customer's notice before the bank has to commit itself to pay the check. If the bank fails to act on the customer's timely notice, it may be liable for damages for the resulting loss which may include damages for dishonor of subsequent items. The code does not regulate fees that banks charge their customers for a notice of postdating or other services covered by the code, but under principles of law such as unconscionability or good faith and fair dealing, courts have reviewed fees and the bank's exercise of a discretion to set fees. Perdue v. Crocker National Bank, 38 Cal.3d 913 (1985) (unconscionability); Best v. United Bank of Oregon, 739 P.2d 554, 562-566 (1987) (good faith and fair dealing). In addition, section 1-203 provides that every contract or duty within the code imposes an obligation of good faith in its performance or enforcement.
4. Section 3-407(c) states that a payor bank or drawee which pays a fraudulently altered instrument in good faith and without notice of the alteration may enforce rights with respect to the instrument according to its original terms or, in the case of an incomplete instrument altered by unauthorized completion, according to its terms as completed. Section 4-401(d) follows the rule stated in section 3-407(c) by applying it to an altered item and allows the bank to enforce rights with respect to the altered item by charging the customer's account.