A bill of exchange is an unconditional order in writing addressed by one person to another, signed by the person giving it, requiring the person to whom it is addressed to pay on demand, or at a fixed or determinable further time, a sum certain in money to order or to bearer.
A bill itself does not operate as an assignment of the funds in the hands of the drawee available for the payment thereof, and the drawee is not liable on the bill unless and until he accepts the same.
A bill may be addressed to two or more drawees jointly, whether they are partners or not; but not to two or more drawees in the alternative or in succession.
An inland bill of exchange is a bill which is, or on its face purports to be, both drawn and payable within this State. Any other bill is a foreign bill. Unless the contrary appears on the face of the bill the holder may treat it as an inland bill.
Where in a bill drawer and drawee are the same person, or where the drawee is a fictitious person, or a person not having capacity to contract, the holder may treat the instrument at his option, either as a bill of exchange or a promissory note.
The drawer of a bill and any indorser may insert thereon the name of a person to whom the holder may resort in case of need; that is to say, in case the bill is dishonored by non-acceptance or non-payment. Such person is called the referee in case of need. It is the option of the bolder to resort to the referee in case of need, or not, as he may see fit.
The acceptance of a bill is the signification by the drawee of his assent to the order of the drawer. The acceptance must be in writing and signed by the drawee. It must not express that the drawee will perform his promise by any other means than the payment of money.
The holder of a bill presenting the same for acceptance may require that the acceptance be written on the bill, and if such request is refused may treat the bill as dishonored.
Where an acceptance is written on a paper other than the bill itself, it does not bind the acceptor except in favor of a person who, on the faith thereof, receives the bill for value.
An unconditional promise in writing to accept a bill before or after it is drawn is deemed an actual acceptance in favor of every person who, upon the faith thereof, receives the bill for value.
The drawee is allowed twenty-four hours after presentment in which to decide whether or not he will accept the bill; but the acceptance, if given, dates as the day of presentation.
Sec 137. Where a drawee to whom a bill is delivered for acceptance destroys the same or refuses within twenty-four hours after such delivery, or within such other period as the holder may allow, to return the bill accepted or non-accepted to the holder, he will be deemed to have accepted the same.
A bill may be accepted before it has been signed by the drawer, or while otherwise incomplete, or when it is overdue, or after it has been dishonored by a previous refusal to accept, or by non-payment. But when a bill payable after sight is dishonored by non-acceptance and the drawee subsequently accepts it, the holder, in the absence of any different agreement, is entitled to have the bill payable accepted as of the date of the first presentment.
An acceptance is either general or qualified. A general acceptance assents without qualification to the order of the drawer. A qualified acceptance in express terms varies the effect of the bill as drawn.
An acceptance to pay at a particular place is a general acceptance unless it expressly states that the bill it to be paid there only, and not elsewhere.
An acceptance is qualified which is:
1. Conditional; that is to say, which makes payment by the acceptor dependent on the fullfillment of a condition therein stated.
2. Partial; that is to say, an acceptance to pay part only of the amount for which the bill is drawn.
3. Local; that is to say, an acceptance to pay only at a particular place.
4. Qualified as to time.
5. The acceptance of some one or more of the drawees but not of all.
The holder may refuse to take a qualified acceptance, and if he does not obtain an unqualified acceptance, he may treat the bill as dishonored by non-acceptance. Where a qualified acceptance is taken, the drawer and in-dorsers are discharged from liability on the bill, unless they have expressly or impliedly authorized the holder to take a qualified acceptance, or subsequently assent thereto. When the drawer or indorser receives notice of a qualified acceptance, he must within a reasonable time express his dissent to the holder, or he will be deemed to have assented thereto.