Legal Question in Business Law in Virginia

Paid in Full

I hired a woman to paint my house and signed a contract. The contract was signed for x amount of dollars. Upon receiving a final bill the numbers were higher than quoted. We included a letter which detailed what we are paying and why. We wrote a check for the amount we felt we owed and included paid in full in the lower left hand of the check. This check was cashed the following morning. I received a phone call today from an attorney about the remainder of the balance. I thought if a check was cashed and it said paid in full, there can't be any grounds for pursuing additional funds?

Asked on 11/15/06, 11:50 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jonathon Moseley Moseley Legal Associates LLP

Re: Paid in Full

First, it is important to understand what exactly the contract says. It can either say that you will pay for whatever work is needed, or it can be for a fixed price. So it is important to read the contract carefully.

It is true that writing "paid in full" on the check -- if the person can see it and cashes it anyway -- can be taken as them accepting the amount you give them.

They could still lose, you then point this out, and then they will probably lose.

There are some tricky questions. If there is a geniune dispute about the amount due, and they accept a check "paid in full" can be an acceptance of the amount you give them and settle the claim.

However, if there is no good faith dispute at all, paying less than you owe MIGHT not work. That's another reason why looking at the contract is important. This is a question where the judge could make a decision either way.

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Answered on 11/15/06, 11:56 am

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