Overview of Our Breach of Promissory Note Services

Breach of Promissory Note Legal Services

Our Chicago business attorneys routinely handle matters involving the enforcement and breach of promissory notes. Promissory notes are among the most common forms of commercial paper used in business dealings to document loan agreements. They are used to finance transactions and fund business operations. They are also commonly used by individuals to document loans to one another. Their creation and exchange are also governed by Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) Article 3, which defines what constitutes an enforceable promissory note and the rights and obligations of the parties to the promissory note.

Understanding Promissory Notes

A promissory note is a legal document that contains a written promise by one party (the maker) to pay a fixed sum of money to another party (the payee) either on demand or at a specified future date. A promissory note evidences the borrower’s legally enforceable promise to repay the lender. The promissory note serves as evidence of the debt and is often used for personal loans, student loans, and other types of loans between individuals and other business entities and organizations. It typically includes the terms of the loan, such as the amount of money being borrowed, the interest rate, the due date, and any other conditions of repayment. The promissory note is signed by the borrower, who promises to repay the loan according to the terms outlined in the document.

What is Required in a Promissory Note?

A promissory note must include certain elements to be considered valid and enforceable. The following are some of the key requirements for a promissory note in Illinois: (1) Written agreement. A promissory note must be in writing and signed by the maker (the person who promises to pay the debt); (2) Terms of repayment: The note must specify the amount of money borrowed, the interest rate (if any), and the due date or payment schedule; (3) Payment obligations. The maker must promise to pay the debt to the lender or a specified person; (4) Consideration. The promissory note must be supported by consideration, meaning that the maker must receive something of value in exchange for the promise to pay the debt; (5) Capacity of the parties. The maker must have the capacity to enter into the agreement and the lender must have the right to enforce the agreement; (6) Compliance with law. The promissory note must comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

A promissory note must clearly identify the borrow, the lender and the specific payment terms, including the amount and time(s) for payment. Essentially, a valid promissory note contains the same elements as other contracts. Therefore, the note must have an offer, acceptance, and consideration. Promissory notes are generally transferable, which means that the holder of the note can transfer their rights to receive payment to another party. The transfer must be made in accordance with the requirements of the UCC. In Illinois, the maximum interest rate that can be charged on a promissory note is 9% per year, unless otherwise provided by law or by agreement between the parties.

The above requirements for promissory notes are general guidelines, and specific details may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. If you have any specific questions about a promissory note or the breach of a promissory note in Illinois, contact our office to speak with one of our business attorneys.

Types of Promissory Notes

Promissory notes can come in different forms and serve different purposes, but they all involve a promise to repay a debt. Some of the most common types of promissory notes include:

  • Unsecured promissory notes: These notes do not have any collateral to secure the loan, meaning that the lender is relying solely on the borrower’s creditworthiness, ability and promise to repay the loan.
  • Secured promissory notes: These notes are backed by collateral, such as a property or a vehicle, which the lender can seize if the borrower fails to repay the debt.
  • Demand promissory notes: These notes give the lender the right to demand payment at any time, without prior notice.
  • Installment promissory notes: These notes require the borrower to make periodic payments over a specified period of time until the debt is paid in full. Each payment includes a portion of the principal amount of the loan, as well as any interest that has accrued.
  • Balloon promissory notes: These notes require the borrower to make smaller payments over a specified period of time, with a large payment due at the end of the term.
  • Convertible promissory notes: These notes give the borrower the option to convert the debt into equity in the future, such as stock in the borrower’s company. This type of note is often used in startup financing.
  • Personal promissory notes: These notes are often used for personal loans between friends or family members.
  • Commercial promissory notes: These notes are used for business loans, such as a loan from a bank to a business owner.

Personal Guaranty in Promissory Note

Many promissory notes contain a requirement the business owner or third party personally guarantee the loan. A personal guaranty in a promissory note is a commitment by an individual to personally repay the debt if the borrower, which could be a business or another individual, fails to do so. A personal guaranty makes the individual who provides it personally responsible for the debt, even if the borrower defaults.

A personal guaranty is an additional level of security for the lender, as it gives them another person to go after in the event that the borrower is unable to repay the debt. A personal guarantee can be used in conjunction with a secured promissory note, which is backed by collateral, or with an unsecured promissory note.
When someone provides a personal guaranty, they should be aware of the consequences of default by the borrower and the potential impact on their personal finances, including their credit score and ability to obtain loans in the future. Before providing a personal guarantee, individuals should consider their financial situation, the amount of the debt, and their level of risk tolerance.

Damages for Breach of Promissory Note

If there is a breach of a promissory note, the lender may be entitled to damages. The specific damages that may be available will depend on the terms of the promissory note and the circumstances of each case. Generally, if a borrower fails to make a payment when due, the lender may be entitled to interest on the unpaid balance, late fees, or other penalties that are specified in the promissory note. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender may be able to seize any collateral that was used to secure the loan.

In addition to these specific damages, the lender may also be entitled to recover general damages, which are meant to compensate the lender for the harm that has been caused by the breach. This may include damages for the cost of collecting the debt, including attorney’s fees and court costs.
The court (or arbritator) will consider the terms of the note and the circumstances of the case to determine the appropriate amount of damages. A promissory note may also include an acceleration clause, which allows the lender to demand payment of the entire debt if the borrower defaults.

Defenses to Breach of Promissory Note

The borrower may have certain defenses in response to a breach of promissory note case. Some of the most common defenses to a breach of promissory note include:

  • Statute of Limitations. The statute of limitations sets a deadline for when a lawsuit must be filed. After the statute of limitations has expired, a creditor or lender can no longer file a lawsuit to collect on the promissory note. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a breach of contract, including a promissory note, is 10 years. If the lender sues the borrower for a breach that occurred more than 10 years ago, the borrower may argue that the statute of limitations has expired.
  • Lack of consideration. The borrower may argue that the promissory note is not enforceable because there was no consideration, meaning that the borrower did not receive anything of value in exchange for their promise to pay the debt.
  • Unenforceable terms. The borrower may argue that the terms of the promissory note are unenforceable because they are illegal, unethical, or against public policy.
  • Fraud or misrepresentation. The borrower may argue that the promissory note is not enforceable because the lender made fraudulent representations or concealed material information when the loan was made.
  • Duress or undue influence. The borrower may argue that they were forced to sign the promissory note under duress or that they signed the note as a result of undue influence by the lender.
  • Unconscionable terms. The borrower may argue that the terms of the promissory note are so one-sided and unfair that they are unconscionable.
    These are just some of the defenses that a borrower may raise in response to a breach of promissory note. The specific defenses that are available will depend on the terms of the promissory note and the circumstances of each case.

Like other contract disputes, the parties may attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation, or mediation. If the issue cannot be resolved, the non-breaching party may choose to file a lawsuit in a court of law, or an arbitration to seek damages or other remedies.

Contact Our Business Attorneys

If you’re dealing with a breach of promissory note issue, our Chicago law firm is equipped to provide the guidance and support you need. Our experienced business attorneys regularly assist in these matters, bringing a wealth of experience and a strategic approach to each case. Whether you’re facing challenges in enforcing a promissory note or defending against claims of breach, we understand the complexities involved and are committed to protecting your interests. We encourage you to contact us for a consultation to explore how we can assist you. Our team is ready to work with you to navigate these legal waters and find a resolution that aligns with your objectives. Reach out to us today and let our expertise make a difference in your case.