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Tina, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33166
Experience:  JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
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I have filed a small claims case against a client for non payment

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I have filed a small claims case against a client for non payment of services. the client has sent in less than was owed with the notation: "final payment" written on the check. I am thinking I am still entitled to what was due if I cash the check. Am I correct? I live in CA

Hello and welcome,

Unfortunately, CA courts have stated that common law principles can effect and accord and satisfaction so that the recipient of the check cannot pursue further action against the payor if they accept the payment where the instrument indicates that it is a payment in full or similar language is used.

The words "final payment" could be interpreted to mean that you are accepting the check in full satisfaction of the debt especially since you have a case pending against the payor. Therefore, you must typically choose whether to accept the payment and risk having your case dismissed, or returning the uncashed check and proceeding with the awsuit.

Here is a link which discusses this issue:

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate my service when I have answered your questions so I will be compensated for my time assisting you. Thank you!


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