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Under the UCC

15 January, 2016 - 09:32

The UCC permits one party to discharge, without consideration, a claim or right arising out of an alleged breach of contract by the other party. This is accomplished by delivering to the other party a signed written waiver orrenunciation. 1 This provision applies to any contract governed by the UCC and is not limited to the sales provisions of Article 2.

The UCC also permits a party to discharge the other side without consideration when there is no breach, and it permits parties to modify their Article 2 contract without consideration. 2 The official comments to the UCC section add the following: “However, modifications made thereunder must meet the test of good faith imposed by this Act. The effective use of bad faith to escape performance on the original contract terms is barred, and the extortion of a “modification” without legitimate commercial reason is ineffective as a violation of the duty of good faith.”

Seller agrees to deliver a ton of coal within seven days. Buyer needs the coal sooner and asks Seller to deliver within four days. Seller agrees. This promise is binding even though Seller received no additional consideration beyond the purchase price for the additional duty agreed to (the duty to get the coal to Buyer sooner than originally agreed). The UCC allows a merchant’s firm offer, signed, in writing, to bind the merchant to keep the offer to buy or sell open without consideration. 3 This is the UCC’s equivalent of a common-law option, which, as you recall, does require consideration.

Section 1-207 of the UCC allows a party a reservation of rights while performing a contract. This section raises a difficult question when a debtor issues an in-full-payment check in payment of a disputed debt. As noted earlier in this chapter, because under the common law the creditor’s acceptance of an in-full-payment check in payment of a disputed debt constitutes an accord and satisfaction, the creditor cannot collect an amount beyond the check. But what if the creditor, in cashing the check, reserves the right (under Section 1-207) to sue for an amount beyond what the debtor is offering? The courts are split on the issue: regarding the sale of goods governed by the UCC, some courts allow the creditor to sue for the unpaid debt notwithstanding the check being marked “paid in full,” and others do not.