Negotiable Instruments and Banking Law

Course Number
LAW 3980
Course Description

This course provides students with an introduction to the Canadian financial system and the law applicable to financial and payment instruments. The focus is on negotiable instruments and the Bills of Exchange Act. A negotiable instrument refers to an instrument that guarantees payment of a specific sum of money to a specific person (e.g. cheques, promissory notes, bills of exchange, etc.) As payment mechanisms, negotiable instruments are an essential component of commerce and facilitate all manner of consumer, commercial, and financial transactions. Negotiable instruments are closely linked to the banker-customer relationship and therefore are studied in connection with banking law.

The course will explore policy considerations, such as the role of law in facilitating commerce and the need to provide certainty in transactions. By the end of the course students will understand how various payment mechanisms operate. Students will also be able to critically evaluate policy debates in commercial law.

Teaching Method

The course is taught through lectures, policy discussions and in-class exercises. Lectures are used to convey many of the main statutory provisions and case law precedents, as well as the importance of contextual factors to legal analysis. Policy discussions are intended to prompt students to think critically about the policies underlying bankruptcy and insolvency law, and the impact of the law in practice. In-class exercises provide students with opportunities to practice applying the law to hypothetical facts. The interactive aspects of the course provide students with regular opportunities to ask questions, share ideas, challenge established viewpoints, and receive feedback.


Open-book exam worth 100% of the final grade.

Course Materials

Benjamin Geva, Commercial and Consumer Transactions Cases, Text and Materials, vol. 2 “Negotiable Instruments and Banking” (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 1995, now published by York University).
Benjamin Geva, ed., Banking, Payments and Negotiable Instruments Supplement (Toronto: York University, 2020).