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Regulation CC
Availability Of Funds And Collection Of Checks - Appendix E

XXI. Section 229.35 Indorsements

A. 229.35(a) Indorsement Standards

     1. This section and Appendix D require banks to use a standard form of indorsement when indorsing checks during the forward collection and return process. The standard provides for indorsements by all collecting and returning banks, plus a unique standard for depositary bank indorsements. It is designed to facilitate the identification of the depositary bank and the prompt return of checks. The regulation places a duty on banks to ensure that their indorsements are legible. The indorsement standard specifies the information each indorsement must contain and its location and ink color.
      2. The indorsement standard requires that the nine-digit routing number of the depositary bank be wholly contained in an area on the back of the check from 3.0 inches from the leading edge to 1.5 inches from the trailing edge of the check. This permits banks to use encoding equipment that measures from either the leading or trailing edge of the check to place indorsements in this area. The standard does not require that the entire depositary bank indorsement be contained within the specified area, but checks will be handled most efficiently if depositary banks place as much information as possible within the designated area to ensure that the information is protected from being overstamped by subsequent indorsements. The location requirement for subsequent collecting bank indorsements (not including returning bank indorsements) limits these indorsements to the area on the back of the check from the leading edge to 3.0 inches from the leading edge of the check. The area from the trailing edge of the check to 1.5 inches from the trailing edge is commonly used for the payee indorsement.
     3. The standard requires depositary banks to use either purple or black ink. The Board encourages depositary banks to indorse checks in purple ink where possible, because use of a unique ink color will facilitate the speedy identification of the depositary bank. Black ink, however, may be used when use of purple ink is not feasible, such as where a bank uses the same equipment to apply both depositary bank and subsequent collecting bank indorsements, and the equipment has only one source of ink.
     4. The standard requires subsequent collecting banks to use an ink color other than purple for their indorsements. The standard also requires the depositary bank's indorsement to include its nine-digit routing number set off by arrows, the bank's name and location, and the indorsement date, and permits the indorsement to include other identifying information.
     5. The standard does not include the fractional routing number for depositary banks; however, a bank may include its fractional routing number or repeat its nine-digit routing number in its indorsement. If a depositary bank includes its routing number in its indorsement more than once, paying and returning banks will be able to identify the depositary bank more readily. Depositary banks should not include information that can be confused with required information. For example, a nine-digit zip code could be confused with the nine-digit routing number.
     6. A depositary bank is not required to place a street address in its indorsement; however, a bank may want to put an address in its indorsement in order to limit the number of locations at which it must accept returned checks. In instances where this address is not consistent with the routing number in the indorsement, the depositary bank is required to accept returned checks at a branch or head office consistent with the routing number. Banks should note, however, that Sec. 229.32 requires a depositary bank to accept returned checks at the location(s) it accepts forward collection checks. The inclusion of a depositary bank's telephone number where it would receive notices of large-dollar returns in its indorsements is optional.
     7. Under the U.C.C., a specific guarantee of prior indorsement is not necessary. (See U.C.C. 4-207(a) and 4-208(a).) Use of guarantee language in indorsements, such as ``P.E.G.'' (``prior endorsements guaranteed''), may result in reducing the type size used in bank indorsements, thereby making them more difficult to read. Use of this language may make it more difficult for other banks to identify the depositary bank. Subsequent collecting bank indorsements may not include this language.
     8. The standard for returning banks requires a returning bank to apply an indorsement that avoids the area on the back of the check from 3.0 inches from the leading edge of the check to the trailing edge--the area reserved for the payee and depositary bank indorsements. Returning bank indorsements may differ from subsequent collecting bank indorsements. The use of various methods to process returns using a variety of equipment also may cause returning bank indorsements to vary substantially in form, content, and placement on the check. Thus, a returning bank indorsement may be on the face of the check or on the back of the check. A returning bank indorsement may not be in purple ink. No content requirements have been adopted for the returning bank indorsement.
     9. If the bank maintaining the account into which a check is deposited agrees with another bank (a correspondent, ATM operator, or lock box operator) to have the other bank accept returns and notices of nonpayment for the bank of account, the indorsement placed on the check as the depositary bank indorsement may be the indorsement of the bank that acts as correspondent, ATM operator, or lock box operator as provided in paragraph (d) of this section.
     10. The backs of many checks bear pre-printed information or blacked out areas for various reasons. For example, some checks are printed with a carbon band across the back that allows the transfer of information from the check to a ledger with one writing. Also, contracts or loan agreements are printed on certain checks. Other checks that are mailed to recipients may contain areas on the back that are blacked out so that they may not be read through the mailer. On the deposit side, the payee of the check may place its indorsement or information identifying the drawer of the check in the area specified for the depositary bank indorsement, thus making the depositary bank indorsement unreadable.
     11. The indorsement standard does not prohibit the use of a carbon band or other printed or written matter on the backs of checks and does not require banks to avoid placing their indorsements in these areas. Nevertheless, checks will be handled more efficiently if depositary banks design indorsement stamps so that the nine-digit routing number avoids the carbon band area. Indorsing parties other than banks, e.g., corporations, will benefit from the faster return of checks if they protect the identifiability and legibility of the depositary bank indorsement by staying clear of the area reserved for the depositary bank indorsement.
     12. Section 229.38(d) allocates responsibility for loss resulting from a delay in return of a check due to indorsements that are unreadable because of material on the back of the check. The depositary bank is responsible for a loss resulting from a delay in return caused by the condition of the check arising after its issuance until its acceptance by the depositary bank that made the depositary bank's indorsement illegible. The paying bank is responsible for loss resulting from a delay in return caused by indorsements that are not readable because of other material on the back of the check at the time that it was issued. Depositary and paying banks may shift these risks to their customers by agreement.
     13. The standard does not require the paying bank to indorse the check; however, if a paying bank does indorse a check that is returned, it should follow the indorsement standard for returning banks. The standard requires collecting and returning banks to indorse the check for tracing purposes.

B. 229.35(b) Liability of Bank Handling Check

     1. When a check is sent for forward collection, the collection process results in a chain of indorsements extending from the depositary bank through any subsequent collecting banks to the paying bank. This section extends the indorsement chain through the paying bank to the returning banks, and would permit each bank to recover from any prior indorser if the claimant bank does not receive payment for the check from a subsequent bank in the collection or return chain. For example, if a returning bank returned a check to an insolvent depositary bank, and did not receive the full amount of the check from the failed bank, the returning bank could obtain the unrecovered amount of the check from any bank prior to it in the collection and return chain including the paying bank. Because each bank in the collection and return chain could recover from a prior bank, any loss would fall on the first collecting bank that received the check from the depositary bank. To avoid circuity of actions, the returning bank could recover directly from the first collecting bank. Under the U.C.C., the first collecting bank might ultimately recover from the depositary bank's customer or from the other parties on the check.
     2. Where a check is returned through the same banks used for the forward collection of the check, priority during the forward collection process controls over priority in the return process for the purpose of determining prior and subsequent banks under this regulation.
     3. Where a returning bank is insolvent and fails to pay the paying bank or a prior returning bank for a returned check, Sec. 229.39(a) requires the receiver of the failed bank to return the check to the bank that transferred the check to the failed bank. That bank then either could continue the return to the depositary bank or recover based on this paragraph. Where the paying bank is insolvent, and fails to pay the collecting bank, the collecting bank also could recover from a prior collecting bank under this paragraph, and the bank from which it recovered could in turn recover from its prior collecting bank until the loss settled on the depositary bank (which could recover from its customer).
     4. A bank is not required to make a claim against an insolvent bank before exercising its right to recovery under this paragraph. Recovery may be made by charge-back or by other means. This right of recovery also is permitted even where nonpayment of the check is the result of the claiming bank's negligence such as failure to make expeditious return, but the claiming bank remains liable for its negligence under Sec. 229.38.
     5. This liability is imposed on a bank handling a check for collection or return regardless of whether the bank's indorsement appears on the check. Notice must be sent under this paragraph to a prior bank from which recovery is sought reasonably promptly after a bank learns that it did not receive payment from another bank, and learns the identity of the prior bank. Written notice reasonably identifying the check and the basis for recovery is sufficient if the check is not available. Receipt of notice by the bank against which the claim is made is not a precondition to recovery by charge-back or other means; however, a bank may be liable for negligence for failure to provide timely notice. A paying or returning bank also may recover from a prior collecting bank as provided in Secs. 229.30(b) and 229.31(b). This provision is not a substitute for a paying or returning bank making expeditious return under Secs. 229.30(a) or 229.31(b). This paragraph does not affect a paying bank's accountability for a check under U.C.C. 4-215(a) and 4-302. Nor does this paragraph affect a collecting bank's accountability under U.C.C. 4-213 and 4-215(d). A collecting bank becomes accountable upon receipt of final settlement as provided in the foregoing U.C.C. sections. The term final settlement in Secs. 229.31 (c), 229.32 (b), and 229.36(d) is intended to be consistent with the use of the term final settlement in the U.C.C. (e.g., U.C.C. 4-213, 4-214, and 4-215). (See also Sec. 229.2(cc) and Commentary.)
     6. This paragraph also provides that a bank may have the rights of a holder based on the handling of the check for collection or return. A bank may become a holder or a holder in due course regardless of whether prior banks have complied with the indorsement standard in Sec. 229.35(a) and Appendix D.
     7. This paragraph affects the following provisions of the U.C.C., and may affect other provisions:
     a. Section 4-214(a), in that the right to recovery is not based on provisional settlement, and recovery may be had from any prior bank. Section 4-214(a) would continue to permit a depositary bank to recover a provisional settlement from its customer. (See Sec. 229.33(d).)
     b. Section 3-415 and related provisions (such as section 3-503), in that such provisions would not apply as between banks, or as between the depositary bank and its customer.

C. 229.35(c) Indorsement by Bank

     1. This section protects the rights of a customer depositing a check in a bank without requiring the words ``pay any bank,'' as required by the U.C.C. (See U.C.C. 4-201(b).) Use of this language in a depositary bank's indorsement will make it more difficult for other banks to identify the depositary bank. The indorsement standard in Appendix D prohibits such material in subsequent collecting bank indorsements. The existence of a bank indorsement provides notice of the restrictive indorsement without any additional words.

D. 229.35(d) Indorsement for Depositary Bank

     1. This section permits a depositary bank to arrange with another bank to indorse checks. This practice may occur when a correspondent indorses for a respondent, or when the bank servicing an ATM or lock box indorses for the bank maintaining the account in which the check is deposited--i.e., the depositary bank. If the indorsing bank applies the depositary bank's indorsement, checks will be returned to the depositary bank. If the indorsing bank does not apply the depositary bank's indorsement, by agreement with the depositary bank it may apply its own indorsement as the depositary bank indorsement. In that case, the depositary bank's own indorsement on the check (if any) should avoid the location reserved for the depositary bank. The actual depositary bank remains responsible for the availability and other requirements of Subpart B, but the bank indorsing as depositary bank is considered the depositary bank for purposes of Subpart C. The check will be returned, and notice of nonpayment will be given, to the bank indorsing as depositary bank.
     2. Because the depositary bank for Subpart B purposes will desire prompt notice of nonpayment, its arrangement with the indorsing bank should provide for prompt notice of nonpayment. The bank indorsing as depositary bank may require the depositary bank to agree to take up the check if the check is not paid even if the depositary bank's indorsement does not appear on the check and it did not handle the check. The arrangement between the banks may constitute an agreement varying the effect of provisions of Subpart C under Sec. 229.37.

Subpart A - General

Subpart B - Availability of Funds and Disclosure of Funds Availability Policies

Subpart C - Collection of Checks

Appendices A & B

Appendices C & D

Appendix F


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