12 CFR § 210.12 - Return of cash items and handling of returned checks.

§ 210.12 Return of cash items and handling of returned checks.

(a) Return of items -

(1) Return of cash items handled by Reserve Banks. A paying bank that receives a cash item from a Reserve Bank, other than for immediate payment over the counter, and that settles for the item as provided in § 210.9(b), may, before it has finally paid the item, return the item to any Reserve Bank (unless its Administrative Reserve Bank directs it to return the item to a specific Reserve Bank) in accordance with subpart C of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC), the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Reserve Banks' operating circulars. A paying bank that receives a cash item from a Reserve Bank also may return the item prior to settlement, in accordance with § 210.9(b) and the Reserve Banks' operating circulars. The rules or practices of a clearinghouse through which the item was presented, or a special collection agreement under which the item was presented, may not extend these return times, but may provide for a shorter return time.

(2) Return of checks not handled by Reserve Banks. A paying bank that receives a check, other than from a Reserve Bank, and that determines not to pay the check, may send the returned check to any Reserve Bank (unless its Administrative Reserve Bank directs it to send the returned check to a specific Reserve Bank) in accordance with subpart C of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC), the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Reserve Banks' operating circulars. A returning bank may send a returned check to any Reserve Bank (unless its Administrative Reserve Bank directs it to send the returned check to a specific Reserve Bank) in accordance with subpart C of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC), the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Reserve Banks' operating circulars.

(b) Handling of returned checks.

(1) The following parties, in the following order, are deemed to have handled a returned check sent to a Reserve Bank under paragraph (a) of this section -

(i) The paying or returning bank;

(ii) The paying bank's or returning bank's Administrative Reserve Bank;

(iii) The Reserve Bank that receives the returned check from the paying or returning bank (if different from the paying bank's or returning bank's Administrative Reserve Bank); and

(iv) Another Reserve Bank, if any, that receives the returned check from a Reserve Bank.

(2) A Reserve Bank that is not described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section is not a person that handles a returned check and is not a returning bank with respect to a returned check.

(3) The identity and order of the parties under paragraph (b)(1) of this section determine the relationships and the rights and liabilities of the parties under this subpart, part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC), and the Uniform Commercial Code.

(c) Paying bank's and returning bank's agreement. The warranties, indemnities, authorizations, and agreements made pursuant to this paragraph (c) may not be disclaimed and are made whether or not the returned check bears an indorsement of the paying bank or returning bank. By sending a returned check to a Reserve Bank, the paying bank or returning bank does all of the following.

(1) Authorization to handle returned check. The paying bank or returning bank authorizes the paying bank's or returning bank's Administrative Reserve Bank, and any other Reserve Bank or returning bank to which the returned check is sent, to handle the returned check (and authorizes any Reserve Bank that handles settlement for the returned check to make accounting entries) subject to this subpart and to the Reserve Banks' operating circulars.

(2) Warranties for all returned checks. The paying bank or returning bank warrants to each Reserve Bank handling a returned check that the returned check bears all indorsements applied by parties that previously handled the returned check for forward collection or return.

(3) Warranties and indemnities as set forth in Regulation CC. As applicable and unless otherwise provided, a paying bank or returning bank makes to each Reserve Bank that handles the returned check all the warranties and indemnities set forth in and subject to the terms of subparts C and D of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC).

(4) Paying bank or returning bank's liability to Reserve Bank.

(i) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(4)(ii) and (iii) of this section, a paying bank or returning bank agrees to indemnify each Reserve Bank for any loss or expense (including attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation) resulting from -

(A) The paying or returning bank's lack of authority to give the authorization in paragraph (c)(1) of this section;

(B) Any action taken by a Reserve Bank within the scope of its authority in handling the returned check; or

(C) Any warranty or indemnity made by the Reserve Bank under paragraph (e) of this section or part 229 of this chapter.

(ii) A paying bank's or returning bank's liability for warranties and indemnities that a Reserve Bank makes for a returned check that is a substitute check, a paper or electronic representation thereof, or an electronic returned check is subject to the following conditions and limitations -

(A) A paying bank or returning bank that sent an original returned check shall not be liable for any amount that a Reserve Bank pays under subpart D of part 229 of this chapter, or under § 229.34 of this chapter with respect to an electronic returned check, absent the paying bank's or returning bank's agreement to the contrary; and

(B) Nothing in this subpart alters the liability under subpart D of part 229 of this chapter of a paying bank or returning bank that sent a substitute check or a paper or electronic representation of a substitute check or under § 229.34 of this chapter of a paying bank or returning bank that sent an electronic returned check; and

(iii) A paying bank or returning bank shall not be liable for any amount that the Reserve Bank pays under this subpart or part 229 of this chapter that is attributable to the Reserve Bank's own lack of good faith or failure to exercise ordinary care.

(d) Paying bank or returning bank's liability under other law. Nothing in paragraph (c) of this section limits any warranty or indemnity by a returning bank or paying bank (or a person that handled an item prior to that bank) arising under state law or regulation (such as the U.C.C.), other federal law or regulation (such as part 229 of this chapter), or an agreement with a Reserve Bank.

(e) Warranties by and liability of Reserve Bank -

(1) Warranties and indemnities. The following provisions apply when a Reserve Bank handles a returned check under this subpart.

(i) Warranties for all items. The Reserve Bank warrants to the bank to which it sends the returned check that the returned check bears all indorsements applied by parties that previously handled the returned check for forward collection or return.

(ii) Warranties and indemnities as set forth in Regulation CC. As applicable and unless otherwise provided, the Reserve Bank makes all the warranties and indemnities set forth in and subject to the terms of subparts C and D of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC).

(2) Indemnity for substitute check created from electronic returned check.

(i) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section, the Reserve Bank shall indemnify the bank to which it transfers or presents an electronic returned check (the recipient bank) for the amount of any losses that the recipient bank incurs under subpart D of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC) for an indemnity that the recipient bank was required to make under subpart D of part 229 of this chapter in connection with a substitute check later created from the electronic returned check.

(ii) The Reserve Bank shall not be liable under paragraph (e)(2)(i) of this section for any amount that the recipient bank pays under subpart D of part 229 of this chapter that is attributable to the lack of good faith or failure to exercise ordinary care of the recipient bank or a person that handled the item, in any form, after the recipient bank.

(3) Liability of Reserve Bank. A Reserve Bank shall not have or assume any other liability to any person except -

(i) For the Reserve Bank's own lack of good faith or failure to exercise ordinary care;

(ii) As provided in this paragraph (e); and

(iii) As provided in subparts C and D of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC).

(f) Recovery by Reserve Bank.

(1) A Reserve Bank that has handled a returned check may recover as provided in paragraph (f)(2) of this section if an action or proceeding is brought against (or if defense is tendered to) the Reserve Bank based on -

(i) The alleged failure of the paying bank or returning bank to have the authority to give the authorization in paragraph (c)(1) of this section;

(ii) Any action by the Reserve Bank within the scope of its authority in handling the returned check; or

(iii) Any warranty or indemnity made by the Reserve Bank under paragraph (e) of this section or part 229 of this chapter; and

(2) Upon entry of a final judgment or decree in an action or proceeding described in paragraph (f)(1) of this section, a Reserve Bank may recover from the paying bank or returning bank the amount of attorneys' fees and other expenses of litigation incurred, as well as any amount the Reserve Bank is required to pay because of the judgment or decree or the tender of defense, together with interest thereon.

(g) Methods of recovery.

(1) The Reserve Bank may recover the amount stated in paragraph (f) of this section by charging any account on its books that is maintained or used by the paying bank or returning bank (or by charging another returning Reserve Bank), if -

(i) The Reserve Bank made seasonable written demand on the paying bank or returning bank to assume defense of the action or proceeding; and

(ii) The paying bank or returning bank has not made any other arrangement for payment that is acceptable to the Reserve Bank.

(2) The Reserve Bank is not responsible for defending the action or proceeding before using this method of recovery. A Reserve Bank that has been charged under this paragraph (g) may recover from the paying or returning bank in the manner and under the circumstances set forth in this paragraph (g).

(3) A Reserve Bank's failure to avail itself of the remedy provided in this paragraph (g) does not prejudice its enforcement in any other manner of the indemnity agreement referred to in paragraph (c)(4) of this section.

(h) Reserve Bank's responsibility. A Reserve Bank shall handle a returned check, or a notice of nonpayment, in accordance with subpart C of part 229 and its operating circular.

(i) Settlement. A subsequent returning bank or depositary bank shall settle with its Administrative Reserve Bank for returned checks in the same manner and by the same time as for cash items presented for payment under this subpart. Settlement with its Administrative Reserve Bank is deemed to be settlement with the Reserve Bank from which the returning bank or depositary bank received the item.

(j) Security interest. When a paying or returning bank sends a returned check to a Reserve Bank, the paying bank, returning bank, and any prior returning bank grant to the paying bank's or returning bank's Administrative Reserve Bank a security interest in all of their respective assets in the possession of, or held for the account of, any Reserve Bank, to secure their respective obligations due or to become due to the Administrative Reserve Bank under this subpart or subpart C of part 229 of this chapter (Regulation CC). The security interest attaches when a warranty is breached or any other obligation to the Reserve Bank is incurred. If the Reserve Bank, in its sole discretion, deems itself insecure and gives notice thereof to the paying bank, returning bank, or prior returning bank, or if the paying bank, returning bank, or prior returning bank suspends payments or is closed, the Reserve Bank may take any action authorized by law to recover the amount of an obligation, including, but not limited to, the exercise of rights of set off, the realization on any available collateral, and any other rights it may have as a creditor under applicable law.

[53 FR 21985, June 13, 1988, as amended at Reg. J, 59 FR 22966, May 4, 1994; 62 FR 48173, Sept. 15, 1997; Reg, J, 69 FR 62560, Oct. 27, 2004; 83 FR 61521, Nov. 30, 2018]

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