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Signature

person, cheque, document, customer and account

SIGNATURE. A banker must know the signatures of all his customers and if lie should pay a cheque, drawn upon the account of one of his customers, where the drawer's signature has been forged, he cannot debit it to the account of his customer. It is very necessary, therefore, that each office should possess a complete set of specimens of signatures of all customers, whether current account or deposit, and to have them in such form that they may be readily referred to. If a drawer's signature differs from his usual one and a banker is in doubt as to whether or not it is genuine, unless he can readily see the customer about it, it is customary to return the cheque with the explanation " signature differs." Section 91 of the Bills of Exchange Act says : " Where, by this Act, any instrument or 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." banker, however, would require a proper authority from a customer before paying a cheque on which the drawer's signature was written by someone other than the drawer himself. In cases where a customer desires to give authority to another to draw cheques upon his account, it is much better that the usual method should be adopted and cheques be signed per procuration. (See MANDATE, PER PROCURATION.) The practice of signing with an ordinary pencil is not a desirable one, and it is advis able to discourage it as much as possible.

A signature may be lithographed, as in the case of dividend warrants, or it may be placed on a cheque by means of a rubber stamp by the person whose signature it is, or by anyone duly authorised by him. A rubber stamp signature, however, is full of danger, and its use should be avoided.

It is very imprudent for anyone to put his signature on a blank cheque, or indeed to any document to be subsequently filled up, and a person so signing will be liable, not for what he expected would be filled in above his signature, but for what actually is filled in.

If a signature is obtained to a document, and the person signing it is under the impres sion that he is signing a document other than it really is, the Courts would probably free him from liability. In Lewis v. Clay (1898, 67 L. J., Q.B. 224) Lord Russell said : " A promissory note is a contract by the maker to pay the payee. Can it be said that in this case the defendant ever con tracted to pay the plaintiff ? I Iis mind never went with the transaction ; for all that appears, he had never heard of the plaintiff, and his mind was fraudulently directed into a different channel by the statement that he was merely witnessing a deed or other document. He had no con tracting mind, and his signature obtained by untrue statements fraudulently made to a document of the existence of which he had no knowledge, cannot bind him." (See SIGNATURE BOOK.)