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A written document in which a borrower agrees (promises) to pay back money to a lender according to specified terms. A written promise to pay a certain sum of money, at a future time, unconditionally.
A promissory note differs from a mere acknowledgment of debt, without any promise to pay, as when the debtor gives his creditor an I 0 U. In its form it usually contains a promise to pay, at a time therein expressed, a sum of money to a certain person therein named, or to his order, for value received. It is dated and signed by the maker. It is never under seal.
He who makes the promise is called the maker, and he to whom it is made is the payee.Although a promissory note, in its original shape, bears no resemblance to a bill of exchange; yet, when indorsed, it is exactly similar to one; for then it is an order by the indorser of the note upon the maker to pay to the indorsee. The indorser is as it were the drawer; the maker, the acceptor; and the indorsee, the payee.
Most of the rules applicable to bills of exchange, equally affect promissory notes. No particular form is requisite to these instruments; a promise to deliver the money, or to be accountable for it, or that the payee shall have it, is sufficient.There are two principal qualities essential to the validity of a note; first, that it be payable at all events, not dependent on any contingency nor payable out of any particular fund. And, secondly, it is required that it be for the payment of money only and not in bank notes, though it has been held differently in the state of New York.A promissory note payable to order or bearer passes by indorsement, and although a chose in action, the holder may bring suit on it in his own name. Although a simple contract, a sufficient consideration is implied from the nature of the instrument.