Sec. 15. In General

Certain elements are required by law to be present in any instrument, as essential to negotiability. While it cannot be said that there are any particular words, exclusively necessary to express these elements, still strict adherence to the forms of expression approved by usage is advisable, that there may be no room for doubt.

The law merchant requires that certain elements be present to render an instrument negotiable. What these essential requirements are, it is the object of the present chapter to enquire. It may aid in the comprehension of the subject, however, to set them briefly forth here at the beginning, as follows:

(1) "It must be in writing and signed by the maker or drawer;

(2) "Must contain an unconditional promise or order to pay a sum certain in money;

(3) "Must be payable, on demand, or at a fixed or determinable future time.

(4) "Must be payable to order or to bearer;

(5) "Where the instrument is addressed to a drawee, he must be named or otherwise indicated therein with reasonable certainty." 6

In the expression of these elements, there is customarily no great variety of form. By usage certain forms have become well known, and it is highly advisable that recognized forms be used, if the intention is to create a negotiable instrument. For it is highly important that the negotiability of a document be easily determinable. Such instruments, having some of the qualities of money and being purchased in the way of trade, should have their character plainly impressed upon them; therefore the simpler the form, the better, so long as it express all the elements. As the Illinois Supreme Court has said: "By the law merchant and by the statutes of the states in aid thereof, negotiable instruments occupy a highly useful and valuable place in the commerce and business of our people. There is no other form of contract known that in so few words may contain so many well understood and thoroughly established legal rights and liabilities" 6a

Often the negotiability of instruments is prevented by the use of too many words rather than by the use of too few. It is sometimes said that a negotiable instrument must not "carry luggage;" it must not be clogged with burdens. We shall see therefore that it must not contain qualifications, stipulations, etc., whereby conditions or uncertainties are imported into it. Perhaps in any particular case it is desired to make conditions and qualify the promise or order. Then, of course, it should be done; but it should likewise be understood that the instrument so made is not negotiable.

6. Uniform Negotiable Instruments Act, Sec 1. 6a. Smith v. Myers, 207 Illinois Reports, 126.