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South Africa

The Bills of Exchange Act (the Act), which regulates the law on bills of exchange, cheques and promissory notes was enacted in 1964. The Bills of Exchange Amendment Act of 2000 amends the Act, mainly for the protection of consumers and also to keep in step with the times.

A good example of the better protection offered to users of cheques is that an individual who signs a cheque on behalf of a principal (eg the company the individual works for) no longer has to indicate that he signs "for or on behalf of" that principal. In terms of the Act, those words had to appear next to the name of the company. If not, the individual could be held personally accountable if the cheque was dishonoured. In terms of the Amendment Act, the name of the principal merely has to appear with the individual's signature. The Amendment Act also accommodates technological advancements. An example of this is the amendment to the effect that a signature can now be printed or stamped on a Bill and such signature is deemed to be equivalent to the physical signing of the Bill. It goes without saying that this amendment makes the signing of a large volume of similar cheques a lot easier.

The Bills of Exchange Amendment Act simplifies the original Act and lends itself as being more user friendly and protective.

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