Introduction to this document

Request to bank to stop a cheque

Very occasionally and very much as a last resort you may need to act quickly to stop a cheque that you’ve just issued. Our letter, addressed to your bank manager, will help you achieve this safely.


Extreme caution must be used if you’re ever contemplating taking this step. This is because stopping a cheque is rarely warranted in law. Although it’s tempting to want to do this if something goes wrong, the so called “cheque rule” will very likely apply. This means that the payee is allowed by the court to sue you on the cheque (which is treated like cash) because paying someone by cheque is regarded as a separate contract under the Bills of Exchange Act. The outcome will be that the payee will automatically obtain a judgment against you, because the court will almost certainly kick out your defence.


The only time you’re allowed to legally stop a cheque is where you’re either the victim of fraud or duress or there’s been a complete failure of consideration, e.g. you made time of the essence and the goods failed to turn up.

Bearing in mind the effect of the “cheque rule”, and the very limited grounds available to stop a cheque, don’t risk trying to do this if you’ve received defective goods. It will only be in very extreme circumstances that stopping a cheque for defective goods will be seen as good defence on the ground of no consideration.

The same principles that apply to stopping a cheque also apply to stopping a direct debt. Again, the same limited grounds apply, which means that it’s only in exceptional circumstances that this course of action can be legally taken. (Of course, as a tactic to force the other party’s hand, it can be highly effective.)