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A holder is a holder in due course (HDC) if he takes the instrument without reason to question its authenticity on account of obvious facial irregularities, for value, in good faith, and without notice that it is overdue or has been dishonored, or that it contains a forgery or alteration, or that that any person has any defense against it or claim to it. The HDC takes the paper free of most defenses; an ordinary holder takes the paper as an assignee, acquiring only the rights of the assignor.
Value is not the same as consideration; hence, a promise will not satisfy this criterion until it has been performed. The HDC must have given something of value other than a promise to give.
Good faith means (1) honesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned and (2) the observance of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing. Honesty in fact is a subjective test, but the observance of reasonable commercial standards is objective.
Notice is not limited to receipt of an explicit statement of defenses; a holder may be given notice through inferences that should be drawn from the character of the instrument. Thus an incomplete instrument, one that bears marks of forgery, or one that indicates it is overdue may give notice on its face. Certain facts do not necessarily give notice of defense or claim: that the instrument is antedated or postdated, that the instrument was negotiated in return for an executory promise, that any party has signed for accommodation, that an incomplete instrument has been completed, that any person negotiating the instrument is or was a fiduciary, or that there has been default in payment of interest or principal.
A person who could not have become an HDC directly (e.g., because he had notice of a defense or claim) may become so if he takes as transferee from an HDC as long as he was not a party to any fraud or illegality affecting the instrument or had not previously been a holder with notice of a defense or claim. This is the shelter rule.
Holders in due course are not immune from all defenses. A real, as opposed to a personal, defense may be asserted against the HDC. Personal defenses include fraud in the inducement, failure of consideration, nonperformance of a condition precedent, and the like. Real defenses consist of infancy, acts that would make a contract void (such as duress), fraud in the execution, forgery, and discharge in bankruptcy. A 1976 trade regulation rule of the Federal Trade Commission abolishes the holder-in-due-course rule for consumer transactions.
Benson purchased a double-paned, gas-filled picture window for his house from Wonder Window, making a $200 deposit and signing an installment contract, which is here set out in its entirety:
October 3, 2012
I promise to pay to Wonder Window or order the sum of $1,000 in five equal installments of $200.
Wonder Window negotiated the installment contract to Devon, who took the instrument for value, in good faith, without notice of any claim or defense of any party, and without question of the instrument’s authenticity. After Benson made three payments, the window fogged up inside and was unacceptable. Benson wants his money back from Wonder Window, and he wants to discontinue further payments. Can he do that? Explain.
Which defeats a person from being an HDC?
Personal defenses are
Fraud in the inducement is a ________________ defense.
A person would not be an HDC if she
Rock Industries agreed to sell Contractor gravel to repair an airport drain field. Contractor was uncertain how many loads of gravel would be needed, so he drew a check made out to “Rock Industries” as the payee but left the amount blank, to be filled in on the job site when the last load of gravel was delivered. Five truckloads, each carrying ten tons of gravel, were required, with gravel priced at $20 per ton. Thus Contractor figured he’d pay for fifty tons, or $1,000, but Rock Industries had apparently filled in the amount as $1,400 and negotiated it to Fairchild Truck Repair. Fairchild took it in good faith for an antecedent debt. Contractor will