Is what is written on the memo line of a check legally binding?

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Is what is written on the memo line of a check legally binding?

I have a check for a job completed it is not for the full amount. However, in the memo line it says “Paid in Full”. Can I cash the check with out giving up my rights to sue in small claims for the balance?

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legally binding. If you cash this check you will most certainly not be giving up your legal rights.  If someone owes money, they may not unilaterally change the amount owed or terms of payment by doing this.  There is a common misconception that the memo line on a check has legal force; the fact is that it does not.  This line is striclty for informational purposes.  While it helps to identify the reason that a check was written, it does not bind the recipient.  If it was that easy to alter the terms of a payment, everyone would be doing it.  Additionally, the fact is that not every check can be that closely monitored for such notations because it would tie up commerce. 


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