Where a bank or a banker takes a mortgage, legal or equitable, or a guarantee as cover for advances or overdraft, there is nothing necessarily differentiating the position from that of any other mortgagee or guaranteed party. It has, however, fallen to banks to evoke some leading decisions with respect to the former class of security. In London Joint Stock Bank v. Simmons ([1892], A.C. 201) the House of Lords, professedly explaining their previous decision in Sheffield v. London Joint Stock Bank, 13 A.C. 333, determined that negotiable securities, commercial or otherwise, may safely be taken in pledge for advances, though the person tendering them is, from his known position, likely to be holding them merely as agent for other persons, so long as they are taken honestly and there is nothing tangible, outside the man's position, to arouse suspicion. So again in Lloyd's Bank v. Cooke [1907], 1 K.B. 794, the bank vindicated the important principle that the common law of estoppel still obtains with regard to bills, notes and cheques, save where distinctly annulled or abrogated by the Bills of Exchange Act, and that therefore a man putting inchoate negotiable instruments into the hands of an agent for the purpose of his raising money thereon is responsible to any one taking them bona fide and for value, although the agent may have fraudulently exceeded and abused his authority and the case does not fall within the provisions of the Bills of Exchange Act.

With regard to guarantees, the main incidents peculiarly Guarantees. affecting bankers are the following. The existence of a guarantee does not oblige the banker to any particular system of keeping the account. So long as it is not unfairly manipulated to the detriment of the guarantor, there is no obligation to put moneys paid in, without appropriation, to the guaranteed rather than to the unguaranteed account, and on the termination of a guarantee, the banker may close the account, leaving it to be covered by the guarantee, and open a new one with the customer, to which he may devote payments in, not otherwise appropriated. Where by its nature or terms a continuing guarantee is revocable either summarily or on specified notice, difficult questions may arise on such revocation as to the banker's duty and obligations towards the customer, who has probably incurred liabilities on the strength of the credit afforded by the guarantee. Although the existence of a guarantee does not bind the banker to advance up to the prescribed limit, he could not well, on revocation, immediately shut off all facilities from the customer without notice, while subsequent purely voluntary advances might not be covered by the guarantee.

These contingencies should therefore be fully provided for by the guarantee, particularly the crucial period of the pendency of notice.


The Institute of Bankers (London), Questions on Banking Practice (6th ed., 1909); J. Douglas Walker, A Treatise on Banking Law (2nd ed., 1885); Chalmers, Bills of Exchange (7th ed., 1909); Sir J. R. Paget, The Law of Banking (2nd ed., 1908); H. Hart, The Law of Banking (2nd ed., 1906).

(J. R. P.)

[1] A translation of the act of the 3rd of May 1619 may be found in the appendix to the Quarterly Journal of Economics (Boston, U.S.A.) for April 1892. These documents present a distinct picture of banking in its true sense.

[2] The clearest account of its early days is found in Thorold Rogers' History of the First Nine Years of the Bank of England.

[3] The date 1876 is taken as being that when the Imperial Bank of Germany came into full operation.

[4] "The Grasshopper" in Lombard Street, by John Biddulph Masters (1892).

[5] See Vorträge und Aufsätze hauptsächlich aus dem Handels- und Wechselrecht, von Dr R. Koch, pp. 163-164.

[6] The imperial treasury is bound to pay the state notes in cash at any time when this is required, but an independent fund of cash set apart for this purpose does not exist. See Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften, vol. v. art. "Papiergeld," p. 97 (Jena, 1893; ed. J. Conrad, L. Elster, W. Lexis and E. Löning).