The problem of cheques being issued by people and companies without sufficient balance in their bank accounts is becoming worse as an estimated 150 to 250 such cases are being heard by the courts on a daily basis.
According to sources in the legal fraternity, cheques being issued by individuals in their day-to-day transactions top the list of the cases that are being taken to the courts.
And since the population of the country has been increasing due to a large influx of foreign workers and banks are quite lenient about issuing cheque books to account holders, people tend to issue cheques for every transaction.
“There is also a severe lack of awareness as many people don’t know the legal consequences of issuing cheques without sufficient balance in their bank accounts,” a source said.
The increasing number of court cases are not only putting burden on the courts but also on the police and the prosecution, for a complaint is to be lodged with the police first and is forwarded to the prosecution for filing charges in the court.
Sources say that the cases involving bounced cheques are the largest in number in the courts and cannot be compared in any way to other civil or commercial disputes in volume.
Cheques have become a way of life in the country and individuals mostly issue them as a guarantee in business and personal deals. From tenants, of both residential and commercial premises, to petty traders, just about everybody issues cheques as guarantee.
“There is no other option. The only way one can provide financial security in a deal or in a tenancy agreement is through post-dated cheques,” a source said.
Also, as an increasing number of development projects are being launched and business activities are increasing the transactions are mainly through cheques.
Meanwhile, in an online survey conducted by Al Sharq Arabic daily on the issue of bounced cheques, a majority of respondents (64 percent) said the punishment prescribed in the law for the crime is not stringent enough. The punishment ranges from a jail term of three months to three years and or fine of up to QR3,000 to QR20,000.
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