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Black’s Law Dictionary 8th Edition, page 3289:


negotiable instrument.A written instrument that (1) is signed by the maker or drawer, (2) includes an unconditional promise or order to pay a specified sum of money, (3) is payable on demand or at a definite time, and (4) is payable to order or to bearer. UCC § 3-104(a). — Also termed negotiable paper; negotiable note. • Among the various types of negotiable instruments are bills of exchange, promissory notes, bank checks, certificates of deposit, and other negotiable securities. [Cases: Bills and Notes 5, 144–175. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit §§ 3–4, 9, 127–138, 143, 148, 155, 159.]

“What are called ‘negotiable instruments,’ or ‘paper to bearer,’ such as bills of exchange, or promissory notes, do really pass from hand to hand, either by delivery or indorsement, giving to each successive recipient a right against the debtor, to which no notice to the debtor is essential, and which, if the paper is held bona fide and for value, is unaffected by flaws in the title of intermediate assignors.” Thomas E. Holland, The Elements of Jurisprudence 315–16 (13th ed. 1924).

“One must first understand that a negotiable instrument is a peculiar animal and that many animals calling for the payment of money and others loosely called ‘commercial paper’ are not negotiable instruments and not subject to the rules of Article 3.” 2 James J. White & Robert S. Summers, Uniform Commercial Code § 16-1, at 70 (4th ed. 1995).

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