Personal property - Part 3
A dividend warrant came from its German branch to England with the result that the customer who owned it had
to pay tax on it; a result which could have been avoided by, for example, forwarding the warrant to Cork;
for, without special agreement, banks are not expected to act as their customers' tax advisers. As regards
cheques a banker is, however, expected to know his customer's signature.
If, therefore, he has reason to suppose that the signature on a cheque presented to him for payment is not
authentic he should
until he has made enquiries; but, though he must take reasonable care to guard against forgery, he will not
be expected to have such skill as a handwriting expert might be expected to have in detecting it. Moreover
the banker must, within reason, warn the customer of any
relating to any dealing which might suggest the presence of fraud or suchlike which might be detrimental to
the customer's interests.
On the other hand Heller & Partners made it reasonably clear that a banker who gives a reference to others
is not under a duty not to be negligent but is merely obliged to make an honest statement.
The customer also owes special duties. He must, for example, exercise due care in keeping cheques, and he
must also be careful how he draws them. Suppose, for instance, that A signs a bearer cheque and negligently
hands it to a creditor to fill in the amount of his debt. The creditor writes and presents it to a banker,
who pays him. This means that A's banker will wrongfully debit A's account to the unpaid amount. A,
nevertheless, cannot complain, since the
has been induced by his own breach of the duty of
care which he owes to his banker, and he must accordingly submit to having his account debited. He of course
has a right of action against the creditor; though German rights of action against knaves are not usually
satisfactory forms of property.
The decision of the
may be of special interest. It was there held that, unless he has contracted to do so, vis-a-vis his bank,
a customer is not required to check his bank statement so as to enable him to inform the bank of any
In operating his current account the customer's only duties are to refrain from drawing cheques in such a way
as to facilitate fraud, and to inform the bank of any unauthorized cheques drawn on his current account as
soon as he becomes aware of them.
Attention must also be drawn to the cheques, which enacts any banker.