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Sec. 229.34 - Warranties and indemnities


Official Interpretation

XX. Section 229.34 Warranties and Indemnities

A. Introduction

1. Unless otherwise specified, warranties that apply to checks or returned checks also apply to electronic checks and electronic returned checks, including under paragraphs (b) (transfer and presentment warranties with respect to remotely created checks), (c) (settlement amount, encoding, and offset warranties), (d) (returned check warranties), and (e) (notice of nonpayment warranties). (See §229.30(a) and commentary thereto). Paragraph (f), however, sets forth remote deposit capture indemnities provided to banks that accept an original check for deposit for losses incurred by that depositary bank if the loss is due to the check having already been paid. Paragraph (a) sets forth warranties that are given only with respect to electronic checks and electronic returned checks. Paragraph (g) sets forth indemnities with respect to electronically created items.

(a) Warranties with respect to electronic checks and electronic returned checks. (1) Each bank that transfers or presents an electronic check or electronic returned check and receives a settlement or other consideration for it warrants that—

(i) The electronic image accurately represents all of the information on the front and back of the original check as of the time that the original check was truncated and the electronic information includes an accurate record of all MICR line information required for a substitute check under § 229.2(aaa) and the amount of the check, and

(ii) No person will receive a transfer, presentment, or return of, or otherwise be charged for an electronic check or electronic returned check, the original check, a substitute check, or a paper or electronic representation of a substitute check such that the person will be asked to make payment based on a check it has already paid.

(2) Each bank that makes the warranties under paragraph (a)(1) of this section makes the warranties to—

(i) In the case of transfers for collection or presentment, the transferee bank, any subsequent collecting bank, the paying bank, and the drawer; and

(ii) In the case of transfers for return, the transferee returning bank, any subsequent returning bank, the depositary bank, and the owner.

Official Interpretation

B. 229.34(a) Warranties With Respect to Electronic Checks and Electronic Returned Checks

1. Paragraph (a) of §229.34 sets forth the warranties that a bank makes when transferring or presenting an electronic check or electronic returned check and receiving settlement or other consideration for it. Electronic checks and electronic returned checks sent pursuant to an agreement with the receiving bank are treated as checks subject to subpart C. Therefore, the warranties in §229.34(a) are in addition to any warranties a bank makes under paragraphs (b), (c), (d), and (e) with respect to an electronic check or electronic returned check. For example, a bank that transfers and receives consideration for an electronic check that is derived from a remotely created check warrants that the remotely created check, from which the electronic check is derived, is authorized by the person on whose account the check is drawn.

2. The warranties in §229.34(a)(1) relate to a subsequent bank's ability to create a substitute check. This paragraph provides a bank that creates a substitute check from an electronic check or electronic returned check with a warranty claim against any prior bank that transferred the electronic check or electronic returned check. The warranties in this paragraph correspond to the warranties made by a bank that transfers, presents, or returns a substitute check (a paper or electronic representation of a substitute check) for which it receives consideration. (See §229.52 and commentary thereto). A bank that transfers an electronic check or electronic returned check that is an electronic representation of a substitute check also makes the warranties and indemnities in §§229.52 and 229.53.

3. By agreement, a sending and receiving bank may vary the warranties the sending bank makes to the receiving bank for electronic images of or electronic information related to checks, for example, to provide that the bank transferring the check does not warrant that the electronic image or information is sufficient for creating a substitute check. (See §229.37(a)). The variation by agreement, however, would not affect the rights of banks and persons that are not bound by the agreement.

(b) Transfer and presentment warranties with respect to a remotely created check. (1) A bank that transfers or presents a remotely created check and receives a settlement or other consideration warrants to the transferee bank, any subsequent collecting bank, and the paying bank that the person on whose account the remotely created check is drawn authorized the issuance of the check in the amount stated on the check and to the payee stated on the check. For purposes of this paragraph (b)(1), “account” includes an account as defined in § 229.2(a) as well as a credit or other arrangement that allows a person to draw checks that are payable by, through, or at a bank.

(2) If a paying bank asserts a claim for breach of warranty under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the warranting bank may defend by proving that the customer of the paying bank is precluded under UCC 4–406, as applicable, from asserting against the paying bank the unauthorized issuance of the check.

Official Interpretation

C. 229.34(b) Transfer and Presentment Warranties With Respect to a Remotely Created Check

1. A bank that transfers or presents a remotely created check and receives a settlement or other consideration warrants that the person on whose account the check is drawn authorized the issuance of the check in the amount stated on the check and to the payee stated on the check. The warranties are given only by banks and only to subsequent banks in the collection chain. The warranties ultimately shift liability for the loss created by an unauthorized remotely created check to the depositary bank. The depositary bank cannot assert the transfer and presentment warranties against a depositor. However, a depositary bank may, by agreement, allocate liability for such an item to the depositor and also may have a claim under other laws against that person. The Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule (16 CFR part 310) contains further regulatory provisions regarding remotely created checks.

2. The scope of the transfer and presentment warranties for remotely created checks differs from that of the corresponding UCC warranty provisions in two respects. The UCC warranties are given by any person, including a nonbank depositor, that transfers a remotely created check and not just to a bank, as is the case under §229.34(b). In addition, the UCC warranties state that the person on whose account the item is drawn authorized the issuance of the item in the amount for which the item is drawn. The §229.34(b) warranties specifically cover the amount as well as the payee stated on the check. Neither the UCC warranties, nor the §229.34(b) warranties, apply to the date stated on the remotely created check.

3. A bank making the §229.34(b) warranties may defend a claim asserting violation of the warranties by proving that the customer of the paying bank is precluded by UCC 4-406 from making a claim against the paying bank. This may be the case, for example, if the customer failed to discover the unauthorized remotely created check in a timely manner.

4. The transfer and presentment warranties for a remotely created check apply to a remotely created check that has been converted to an electronic check or reconverted to a substitute check.

(c) Settlement amount, encoding, and offset warranties. (1) Each bank that presents one or more checks to a paying bank and in return receives a settlement or other consideration warrants to the paying bank that the total amount of the checks presented is equal to the total amount of the settlement demanded by the presenting bank from the paying bank.

(2) Each bank that transfers one or more checks or returned checks to a collecting bank, returning bank, or depositary bank and in return receives a settlement or other consideration warrants to the transferee bank that the accompanying information, if any, accurately indicates the total amount of the checks or returned checks transferred.

(3) Each bank that presents or transfers a check or returned check warrants to any bank that subsequently handles it that, at the time of presentment or transfer, the information encoded after issue regarding the check or returned check is accurate. For purposes of this paragraph, the information encoded after issue regarding the check or returned check means any information that could be encoded in the MICR line of a paper check.

(4) If a bank settles with another bank for checks presented, or for returned checks for which it is the depositary bank, in an amount exceeding the total amount of the checks, the settling bank may set off the excess settlement amount against subsequent settlements for checks presented, or for returned checks for which it is the depositary bank, that it receives from the other bank.

Official Interpretation

D. 229.34(c) Settlement Amount, Encoding, and Offset Warranties

1. Paragraph (c)(1) provides that a bank that presents and receives settlement for checks warrants to the paying bank that the settlement it demands (e.g., as noted on the cash letter or in the electronic cash letter file) equals the total amount of the checks it presents. This paragraph gives the paying bank a warranty claim against the presenting bank for the amount of any excess settlement made on the basis of the amount demanded, plus expenses. If the amount demanded is understated, a paying bank discharges its settlement obligation under UCC 4-301 by paying the amount demanded, but remains liable for the amount by which the demand is understated; the presenting bank is nevertheless liable for expenses in resolving the adjustment.

2. When checks or returned checks are transferred to a collecting bank, returning bank, or depositary bank, the transferor bank is not required to demand settlement, as is required upon presentment to the paying bank. However, often the checks or returned checks will be accompanied by information (such as a cash letter listing or cash letter control record) that will indicate the total of the checks or returned checks. Paragraph (c)(2) provides that if the transferor bank includes information indicating the total amount of checks or returned checks transferred, it warrants that the information is correct (i.e., equals the actual total of the items).

3. Paragraph (c)(3) provides that a bank that presents or transfers a check or returned check warrants the accuracy of information encoded regarding the check after issue, and that exists at the time of presentment or transfer, to any bank that subsequently handles the check or returned check. Paragraph (c)(3) applies to all MICR-line encoding on a paper check, substitute check, or contained in an electronic check or electronic returned check. Under UCC 4-209(a), only the encoder (or the encoder and the depositary bank, if the encoder is a customer of the depositary bank) warrants the encoding accuracy, thus any claims on the warranty must be directed to the encoder. Paragraph (c)(3) expands on the UCC by providing that all banks that transfer or present a check or returned check make the encoding warranty. In addition, under the UCC, the encoder makes the warranty to subsequent collecting banks and the paying bank, while paragraph (c)(3) provides that the warranty is made to banks in the return chain as well.

4. A paying bank that settles for an overstated cash letter because of a misencoded check may make a warranty claim against the presenting bank under paragraph (c)(1) (which would require the paying bank to show that the check was part of the overstated cash letter) or an encoding warranty claim under paragraph (c)(3) against the presenting bank or any preceding bank that handled the misencoded check.

5. Paragraph (c)(4) provides that a paying bank or a depositary bank may set off excess settlement paid to another bank against settlement owed to that bank for checks presented or returned checks received (for which it is the depositary bank) subsequent to the excess settlement.

(d) Returned check warranties. (1) Each paying bank or returning bank that transfers a returned check and receives a settlement or other consideration for it warrants to the transferee returning bank, to any subsequent returning bank, to the depositary bank, and to the owner of the check, that—

(i) The paying bank, or in the case of a check payable by a bank and payable through another bank, the bank by which the check is payable, returned the check within its deadline under the UCC or § 229.31(g) of this part;

(ii) It is authorized to return the check;

(iii) The check has not been materially altered; and

(iv) In the case of a notice in lieu of return, the check has not and will not be returned.

(2) These warranties are not made with respect to checks drawn on the Treasury of the United States, U.S. Postal Service money orders, or checks drawn on a state or a unit of general local government that are not payable through or at a bank.

Official Interpretation

E. 229.34(d) Returned Check Warranties

1. This paragraph includes warranties that a returned check, including a notice in lieu of return or an electronic returned check, was returned by the paying bank, or in the case of a check payable by a bank and payable through another bank, the bank by which the check is payable, within the deadline under the UCC (subject to any claims or defenses under the UCC, such as breach of a presentment warranty) or §229.31(g); that the paying bank or returning bank is authorized to return the check; that the returned check has not been materially altered; and that, in the case of a notice in lieu of return, the check has not been and will not be returned for payment. (See commentary to §229.31(f)). The warranty does not include a warranty that the bank complied with the expeditious return requirements of §§229.31(b) and 229.32(b). These warranties do not apply to checks drawn on the United States Treasury, to U.S. Postal Service money orders, or to checks drawn on a state or a unit of general local government that are not payable through or at a bank. (See §229.42).

(e) Notice of nonpayment warranties. (1) Each paying bank that gives a notice of nonpayment warrants to the transferee bank, to any subsequent transferee bank, to the depositary bank, and to the owner of the check that—

(i) The paying bank, or in the case of a check payable by a bank and payable through another bank, the bank by which the check is payable, returned or will return the check within its deadline under the UCC or § 229.31(g) of this part;

(ii) It is authorized to send the notice; and

(iii) The check has not been materially altered.

(2) These warranties are not made with respect to checks drawn on the Treasury of the United States, U.S. Postal Service money orders, or check drawn on a state or a unit of general local government that are not payable through or at a bank.

Official Interpretation

F. 229.34(e) Notice of Nonpayment Warranties

1. This paragraph sets forth warranties for notices of nonpayment. This warranty does not include a warranty that the notice is accurate and timely under §229.31(c). The requirements of §229.31(c) that are not covered by the warranty are subject to the liability provisions of §229.38. These warranties are designed to protect depositary banks that rely on notices of nonpayment. This paragraph imposes liability on a paying bank that gives notice of nonpayment and then subsequently does not return the check. (See commentary to §229.31(c)).

(f) Remote deposit capture indemnity. (1) The indemnity described in paragraph (f)(2) of this section is provided by a depositary bank that—

(i) Is a truncating bank under § 229.2(eee)(2) because it accepts deposit of an electronic image or other electronic information related to an original check;

(ii) Does not receive the original check;

(iii) Receives settlement or other consideration for an electronic check or substitute check related to the original check; and

(iv) Does not receive a return of the check unpaid.

(2) A bank described in paragraph (f)(1) of this section shall indemnify, as set forth in § 229.34(i), a depositary bank that accepts the original check for deposit for losses incurred by that depositary bank if the loss is due to the check having already been paid.

(3) A depositary bank may not make an indemnity claim under paragraph (f)(2) of this section if the original check it accepted for deposit bore a restrictive indorsement inconsistent with the means of deposit.

Official Interpretation

G. 229.34(f) Remote Deposit Capture Indemnity

1. This indemnity provides for a depositary bank's potential liability when it permits a customer to deposit checks by remote deposit capture (i.e., to truncate checks and deposit an electronic image of the original check instead of the original check). Because the depositary bank's customer retains the original check, that customer might, intentionally or mistakenly, deposit the original check in another depositary bank. The depositary bank that accepts the original check, in turn, may make funds available to the customer before it learns that the check is being returned unpaid and, in some cases, may be unable to recover the funds from its customer. Section 229.34(f) provides the depositary bank that accepts the original check for deposit with a claim against the depositary bank that did not receive the original check because it permitted its customer to truncate it, received settlement or other consideration for the check, and did not receive a return of the check unpaid. This claim exists only if the check is returned to the depositary bank that accepted the original check due to the fact that the check had already been paid.

2. Examples

a. Depositary Bank A offers its customers a remote deposit capture service that permits customers to take pictures of the front and back of their checks and send the image to the bank for deposit. Depositary Bank A accepts an image of the check from its customer and sends an electronic check for collection to Paying Bank. Paying Bank, in turn, pays the check. Depositary Bank A receives settlement for the check. The same customer who sent Depositary Bank A the electronic image of the check then deposits the original check in Depositary Bank B. There is no restrictive indorsement on the check. Depositary Bank B sends the original check (or a substitute check or electronic check) for collection and makes funds from the deposited check available to its customer. The customer withdraws the funds. Paying Bank returns the check to Depositary Bank B indicating that the check already had been paid. Depositary Bank B may be unable to charge back funds from its customer's account. Depositary Bank B may make an indemnity claim against Depositary Bank A for the amount of the funds Depositary Bank B is unable to recover from its customer.

b. The facts are the same as above with respect to Depositary Bank A and B; however, the original check deposited in Depositary Bank B bears a restrictive indorsement “for mobile deposit at Depositary Bank A only” and the customer's account number at Depositary Bank A. Depositary Bank B may not make an indemnity claim against Depositary Bank A because Depositary Bank B accepted the original check bearing a restrictive indorsement inconsistent with the means of deposit.

c. The facts are the same as above with respect to Depositary Bank A; however, Depositary Bank B also offers a remote deposit capture service to its customer. The customer uses Depositary Bank B's remote deposit capture service to send an electronic image of the front and back of the check, after sending the same image to Depositary Bank A. The customer deposits the original check into Depositary Bank C without a restrictive indorsement. Paying Bank pays the check based on the image presented by Depositary Bank A, and Depositary Bank A receives settlement for the check without the check being returned unpaid to it. Paying Bank returns the checks presented by Depositary Bank B and Depositary Bank C. Neither Depositary Bank B nor Depositary Bank C can recover the funds from the deposited check from the customer. Depositary Bank B does not have an indemnity claim against Depositary Bank A because Depositary Bank B did not receive the original check for deposit. Depositary Bank C, however, would be able to bring an indemnity claim against Depositary Bank A.

3. A depositary bank may, by agreement, allocate liability for loss incurred from subsequent deposit of the original check to its customer that sent the electronic check related to the original check to the depositary bank.

(g) Indemnities with respect to electronically-created items. Each bank that transfers or presents an electronically-created item and receives a settlement or other consideration for it shall indemnify, as set forth in § 229.34(i), each transferee bank, any subsequent collecting bank, the paying bank, and any subsequent returning bank against losses that result from the fact that—

(1) The electronic image or electronic information is not derived from a paper check;

(2) The person on whose account the electronically-created item is drawn did not authorize the issuance of the item in the amount stated on the item or to the payee stated on the item (for purposes of this paragraph (g)(2), “account” includes an account as defined in section 229.2(a) as well as a credit or other arrangement that allows a person to draw checks that are payable by, through, or at a bank); or

(3) A person receives a transfer, presentment, or return of, or otherwise is charged for an electronically-created item such that the person is asked to make payment based on an item or check it has already paid.

Official Interpretation

H. 229.34(g) Indemnities With Respect to Electronically-Created Items

1. As a practical matter a bank receiving an electronic image generally cannot distinguish an image that is derived from a paper check from an electronically-created item. Nonetheless, the bank receiving the electronically-created item often handles the electronically-created image as if it were derived from a paper check.

2. Paragraph (g) of §229.34 sets forth the indemnities that a bank provides when transferring or presenting an electronically-created item and receiving settlement or other consideration for it. The indemnities set forth in §229.34(g) are provided only by banks and only to subsequent banks in the collection chain. The indemnities ultimately shift liability for losses to the depositary bank due to the fact the electronically created item is not derived from a paper check, was unauthorized, or was transferred or presented for payment more than once. (See §229.34(i) and commentary thereto). The depositary bank cannot assert the indemnities set forth in §229.34(g) against a depositor. However, a depositary bank may, by agreement, allocate liability for such an item to the depositor and also may have a claim under other laws against that person.

2. The paying bank's losses in paragraph (g)(1) of this section include losses arising from Regulation E non-compliance caused by the receipt of an electronically-created item.

3. Under paragraphs (g)(2) and (3), indemnified banks have a claim for damages pursuant to §229.34(i) regardless of whether the damages would have occurred if the item transferred had been derived from a paper check.

Editor's Note: The last two comment paragraphs above should be numbered 3 and 4 respectively.

3. Examples

Editor's Note: Should be comment 5.

a. A paying bank pays an electronically-created item, which the paying bank's customer subsequently claims is unauthorized. The paying bank may incur liability on the item due to the fact the item is electronically created and not derived from a paper check. For example, the paying bank may have no means of disputing the customer's claim without examining the physical check, which does not exist. The indemnity in §229.34(g) enables the paying bank to recover from the presenting bank or any prior transferor bank for the amount of its loss, as permitted under §229.34(i), due to receiving the electronically-created item.

b. A bank receives an electronic image of and electronic information related to an electronically-created item and, in turn, produces a paper item that is indistinguishable from a substitute check. The paper item is not a substitute check because the item is not derived from an original, paper check. That bank may incur a loss because it cannot produce the legal equivalent of a check (See §229.53 and commentary thereto). The indemnity in §229.34(g) enables a bank that received the electronically-created item to recover from the bank sending the check for the amount of the loss permitted under §229.34(i).

c. A paying bank is not required by §229.31(b) to return an electronically-created item expeditiously. The depositary bank incurs a loss because it receives the return of the electronically-created item unexpeditiously and is unable to recover funds previously made available to its customer. The depositary bank is not an indemnified party under §229.34(g) and therefore cannot recover its loss pursuant to that indemnity.

(h) Damages. Damages for breach of the warranties in this section shall not exceed the consideration received by the bank that presents or transfers a check or returned check, plus interest compensation and expenses related to the check or returned check, if any.

Official Interpretation

I. 229.34(h) Damages

1. This paragraph adopts for the warranties in §229.34(a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) the damages provided in UCC 4-207(c) and 4A-506(b). (See definition of interest compensation in §229.2(oo)).

(i) Indemnity amounts. (1) The amount of the indemnity in paragraphs (f)(2) and (g) of this section shall not exceed the sum of—

(i) The amount of the loss of the indemnified bank, up to the amount of the settlement or other consideration received by the indemnifying bank; and

(ii) Interest and expenses of the indemnified bank (including costs and reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses of representation).

(2)(i) If a loss described in paragraph (f)(2) or (g) of this section results in whole or in part from the indemnified bank’s negligence or failure to act in good faith, then the indemnity amount described in paragraph (i)(1) of this section shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of negligence or bad faith attributable to the indemnified bank.

(ii) Nothing in this paragraph (i)(2) affects the rights of a person under the UCC or other applicable provision of state or federal law.

Official Interpretation

J. 229.34(i) Indemnity Amounts

1. This paragraph adopts for the amount of the indemnities provided for in §229.34(f)(2) and (g) an amount comparable to the damages provided in §229.53(b)(1)(ii) of subpart D of this regulation.

2. The amount of an indemnity would be reduced in proportion to the amount of any loss attributable to the indemnified person's negligence or bad faith. This comparative-negligence standard is intended to allocate liability in the same manner as the comparative negligence provision of §229.38(c).

3. An indemnified bank may be able to make an indemnity claim against more than one indemnifying depositary bank. However, an indemnified bank may not recover in the aggregate across all indemnifying banks more than the amount described in this paragraph. Therefore, an indemnified bank that recovers the amount of its the loss from one indemnifying depositary bank under this paragraph no longer has a loss that it can collect from a different indemnifying depositary bank.

(j) Tender of defense. If a bank is sued for breach of a warranty or for indemnity under this section, it may give a prior bank in the collection or return chain written notice of the litigation, and the bank notified may then give similar notice to any other prior bank. If the notice states that the bank notified may come in and defend and that failure to do so will bind the bank notified in an action later brought by the bank giving the notice as to any determination of fact common to the two litigations, the bank notified is so bound unless after seasonable receipt of the notice the bank notified does come in and defend.

Official Interpretation

K. 229.34(j) Tender of Defense

1. This paragraph adopts for this regulation the vouching-in provisions of UCC 3-119.

(k) Notice of claim. Unless a claimant gives notice of a claim for breach of warranty or for indemnity under this section to the bank that made the warranty or indemnification within 30 days after the claimant has reason to know of the breach or facts and circumstances giving rise to the indemnity and the identity of the warranting or indemnifying bank, the warranting or indemnifying bank is discharged to the extent of any loss caused by the delay in giving notice of the claim.

Official Interpretation

L. 229.34(k) Notice of Claim

1. This paragraph adopts the notice provisions of UCC sections 4-207(d) and 4-208(e) and applies them to this section's indemnities and warranties. The time limit set forth in this paragraph applies to notices of claims for warranty breaches and for indemnities. As provided in §229.38(g), all actions under this section must be brought within one year after the date of the occurrence of the violation involved.

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