Ordinary holders are simply those holders who have possession of the instrument and to whom the instrument is payable. Ordinary holders are afforded all the rights that were also afforded to the transferors of the instruments without any additional rights being included for the ordinary holder.
The effect of not having any additional rights afforded to an ordinary holder is that such a holder has no defense against the illegitimate actions of other previous holders. For example, if Leah sells goods to Eric in exchange for a negotiable instrument, like a check, and then Leah exchanges that check with Marissa for a promise from Marissa to perform some service in the future, then Marissa would be the ordinary holder of the check.
If Eric then refused to support the payment of the check because Leah’s goods were defective, Marissa would have no defense and would lose out on payment, as she was simply the ordinary holder. If she had been the holder in due course, then she would not lose out on the payment for the check she had received. To find out more about the rights of basic, ordinary holders, follow the link.
Status of a Holder in Due Course
A holder in due course (HDC), unlike an ordinary holder, is afforded some level of protection from the defenses and attempts at recoupment of prior holders. The status of holder in due course, as provided under the Uniform Commercial Code, is designed to protect those parties to a negotiable instrument who have performed no wrongdoing and who, therefore, should not be injured if another party defaults on payment or attempts to defend itself from the requirement to pay. Because this status would be easily manipulated for fraudulent purposes, however, commercial law puts relatively stringent requirements on holder in due course status.
If a given party does not fulfill these requirements with relation to its transaction regarding the negotiable instrument, then that party will not be given the status of a holder in due course and will then only have the rights and protections afforded to an ordinary holder.
The requirements for being considered a holder in due course under commercial law include: that the party took the negotiable instrument for value and not as a gift or for less than value; that the party took the negotiable instrument in good faith; and that the party did not take the negotiable instrument after having received any kind of reasonable notice informing the party of faults in the negotiable instrument, such as a notice informing the party of a forged signature or of a defaulted payment regarding the negotiable instrument.
Even with these requirements as an attempt to prevent any manipulative or deceptive uses of such status, there are still those who manipulate holder in due course doctrine in order to make money while injuring others. To find out more about what it means to be a holder in due course, what exactly the requirements are, and the ways in which HDC doctrine is unfairly manipulated, click the link.
Holder Through HDC
While there are stringent requirements for any given holder of a negotiable instrument to be a holder in due course, there is actually a way around those requirements, designed to help facilitate commerce and prevent any lag in business caused by litigation. The shelter principle is a rule built into the Uniform Commercial Code to help smooth out transactions with negotiable instruments.
Essentially, the shelter principle allows for possessors of negotiable instruments to achieve status as holders through an HDC, which will then afford those possessors all the same rights that are afforded to an HDC. In other words, once a holder of the negotiable instrument in question has been granted status as a holder in due course, then every holder of that negotiable instrument from that point forward will be afforded the same rights.
This is based off the principle that when a given negotiable instrument is transferred, the transferee receives at least the same rights as were held by the transferor. Thus, if the transferor has the rights of an HDC, those rights are transferred.
There are some exceptions to this principle, designed to prevent its misuse in manipulative or deceptive practices. Specifically, any party which had previously possessed a given negotiable instrument cannot increase the rights afforded to it in relation to that instrument through the shelter principle.
This is designed to prevent a party which had previously forfeited any access to HDC status through fraudulent practices, or through purchasing practices without good faith, from then receiving protection for the repercussions of those actions. To find out more about the shelter principle, how one can become a holder through an HDC, and the exemptions to this principle, follow the link.