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Bank, 3 App. Cas. 325 (1878);
Bank of Scotland v. § 62.
Raper v. Birkbeck, 15 East, 17 (1812); Wilkinson v.
63. Where a bill or acceptance is materially Alteration altered without the assent of all parties liable on the bill, the bill is voided, except as against a party who has himself made, authorized, or assented to the alteration, and subsequent indorsers:
Provided, that where a bill has been materially Proviso. altered, but the alteration is not apparent, and the bill is in the hands of a holder in due course, such holder may avail himself of the bill as if it had not been altered, and may enforce payment of it according to its original tenor: Imp. Act, s. 64 (1)
The first clause is in accordance with the old law. Subsequent indorsers are held liable because an indorser is estopped from denying the prior signatures, and that it is a valid bill: section 55, 8-8. 2.
It has been laid down that an alteration is material which in any way alters the operation of the bill and the liabilities of the parties, whether the change be prejudicial or beneficial, or which would alter its effect if used for business purposes: Gardner v. Walsh, 5 E. & B. at p. 89 (1855); Suffell v. Bank of England, 9 Q. B. D. at pp. 568, 574 (1882). Whether an alteration is material or not, is a question of law: Vance v. Lowther, 1 Ex. D. 176 (1876).
The proviso was inserted in the English bill in committee, and is intended to modify the rigor of the common law, which voided the bill entirely, even in the hands of an innocent holder. For a definition of a holder in due course, see section 29.
1. Defendant indorsed a note for the accommodation of the makers. They afterwards inserted the words "with interest at 10 per cent." without his knowledge. He was held not liable on the note to a bona fide holder for value: Halcrow v. Kelly, 28 U. C. C. P. 551 (1878).
2. Where indorsers subsequently assented to the addition of the words "with interest at 7 per cent." they were held liable: Fitch v. Kelly, 44 U. C. Q. B. 578 (1879).
3. Where a note was payable to P. or bearer, and after being negotiated, the name of P. was written, but not by him, below the signature of the makers, and without their knowledge, the note was held to be void: Reid v. Humphrey, 6 Ont. A. R. 403 (1881).
4. Two notes were given for patent rights, and the maker indorsed on them the words "the within notes not to be sold." The payee cut from one note the portion with these words, but without defacing it. On the other he erased the word "not.” Plaintiff noticed the erasure when buying the notes, and gave much less than their value for them. Held, that he was not an innocent holder, and the notes were void: Swaisland v. Davidson, 3 O. R. 320 (1882).
5. When the maker of a note signed it with a blank before the sum, both in the body of the note and in the margin, and the amount was increased, he was, on the ground of negligence, held liable to an innocent holder for the larger sum: Dorwin v. Thomson, 13 L. C. J. 262 (1869); Young v. Grote, 4 Bing. 253 (1827); Marcussen v. Birbeck Bank, 5 T. L. R. 646 (1889).
6. The question of the alteration of a note is for the jury: Domville v. Davies, 13 N. S. (1 R. & G.) 159 (1879); Street v. Walsh, Stevens' N. B. Dig. 250 (1862).
7. The rule in the proviso was applied in favor of plaintiffs when after the note was signed, the words "jointly and severally" had been inserted in the same handwriting as the
rest of the body of the note: Waterous Engine Co. v. McLean, § 63. 2 Man. L. R. 279 (1885).
8. Where a bill is voided on account of a material alteration, the holder cannot sue on the consideration, unless the alteration took place before the bill was negotiated to him, or he is innocent in the matter, and the person from whom he received it, had no remedy over on the bill: Alderson v. Langdale, 3 B. & Ad. 660 (1832); Burchfield v. Moore, 23 L. J. Q. B. 261 (1854); Atkinson v. Hawdon, 2 A. & E. 628 (1835).
9. The alteration may be "apparent" although the holder may not have been able to detect it: Leeds Bank v. Walker, 11 Q. B. D. 84 (1883).
2. In particular, the following alterations are What are material, namely, any alteration of the date, the altera sum payable, the time of payment, the place of payment, and where a bill has been accepted generally, the addition of a place of payment without the acceptor's assent. Imp. Act, s. 64 (2). ·
The list of material alterations here given is not exhaustive. For a statement of the grounds on which an alteration is deemed to be material, see the notes to the preceeding sub-section.
The following alterations in bills and notes have been held to be material ::
1. Alteration of the date: Meredith v. Culver, 5 U. C. Q. B. 218 (1848); Gladstone v. Dew, 9 U. C. C. P. 439 (1859); Beltz v. Molsons Bank, 40 U. C. Q. B. 253 (1876); Banque Ville Marie v. Primeau, 26 L. C. J. 20 (1881); Quebec Bank v. Ogilvy, 3 Dorion, 200 (1883); Masten v. Miller, 4 T. R. 320 (1791); Outhwaite v. Luntley, 4 Camp. 179 (1815); Atkinson v. Hawdon, 2 A. & E. 628 (1835); Hirschman v. Budd, L. R. 8 Ex. 171 (1873);
§ 63. Vance v. Lowther, 1 Ex. D. 176 (1876); Engel v. Stourton, 5 T. L. R. 444 (1889).
2. Alteration of the sum payable: Halcrow v. Kelly, 28 U. C. C. P. 551 (1878); Fitch v. Kelly, 44 U. C. Q. B. 578 (1879). Even if made less: Hamelin v. Bruck, 9 Q. B. 306 (1846); Sutton v. Toomer, 7 B. & C. 416 (1827); Warrington v. Early, 23 L. J. Q. B. 47 (1858).
3. Alteration of the time of payment: Meredith v. Culver, supra; Reg. v. Craig, 7 U. C. C. P. 239 (1857); Westloh v. Brown, 43 U. C. Q. B. 402 (1878); Long v. Moore, 3 Esp. 155 n. (1790).
4. Alteration of the place of payment: McQueen v. McIntyre, 30 U. C. C. P. 426 (1879); Tidmarsh v. Grover, 1 M. & S. 735 (1813); Cowie v. Halsall, 4 B. & A. 197 (1821). 5. Adding a place of payment: Calvert v. Baker, 4 M. & W. 417 (1838); Gibb v. Mather, 2 Cr. & J. at p. 262 (1832.)
6. Making a "joint" note "joint and several": Samson v. Yager, 4 U. C. O. S. 2 (1834); Perring v. Hone, 4 Bing. 28 (1826) See Leslie v. Emmons, 25 U. C. Q. B. 243 (1866).
7. By striking out or clipping off a condition indorsed : Campbell v. McKinnon, 18 U. C. Q. B. 612 (1859); Swaisland v. Davidson, 3 O. R. 320 (1888).
8. By adding "or order" to make the note negotiable: Lawton v. Millidge, 4 N. B. (2 Kerr) 520 (1844). But see No. 17 below.
9. By adding a new maker after issue: Reid v. Humphrey, 6 Ont. A. R. 403 (1881); Gardner v. Walsh, 5 E. & B. 83 (1855). 10. Erasing the signature of one of two joint makers: Nicholson v. Reveill, 4 A. & E. 675 (1836).
11. Changing "I" to "we": Draper v. Wood, 112 Mass. 315 (1873).
12. Changing "order" to "bearer ": Booth v. Powers, 56 N. Y. 22 (1874).
The following alterations have been held not to be material :
13. Inserting the word "months" where inadvertently omitted: Laine v. Clarke, R. L. 450 (1871).
14. As regards the maker, giving the note a later date : Canadian Investment Co. v. Brown, 19 R. L. 364 (1890); but now see sub-section 2, supra.
15. The maker of an accommodation note issued in June, dated it "6th, 1875," without a month. June 6th was a Sunday. The payee made the date June 8th. Held, that the note was not voided Merchants' Bank v. Stirling, 13 N. S. (1 R. & G.) 439 (1880); but now see sub-section 2, supra.
16. A memorandum at the foot declaring the note to be payable at a particular place: Cunard v. Tozer, 4 N. B. (2 Kerr) 365 (1844).
17. Adding "or order": Kershaw v. Cox, 3 Esp. 246 (1800); Byrom v. Thompson, 11 A. & E. 31 (1839).
18. Changing the name of the drawees from S. C. & Co. to S. & C., their proper firm name: Farquhar v. Southey, 1 M. & M. 14 (1826).
19. Adding "on demand," where no due time was mentioned Aldous v. Cornwell, L. R. 3 Q. B. 573 (1868).
20. Adding "for the Bank of, etc." to the signature of the cashier when he had in fact signed for the bank: Folger v. Chase, 18 Pick. (Mass.) 63 (1836).
21. Inserting the dollar mark before the numerals: Houghton v. Francis, 29 Ill. 244 (1862).
22. Correcting a name incorrectly written: Cole v. Hills, 44 N. H. 227 (1863); Desby v. Thrall, 44 Vt. 413 (1872).
Fraudulently altering a bill or note is forgery. See ante p. 148.