Promissory note and Bill of Exchange are defined under Negotiable Instrument Act 1881 as under:

Promissory note (Section 4)

An instrument in writing (not being a bank-note or a currency-note) containing an unconditional undertaking, signed by the maker, to pay a certain sum of  money only to, or to the order of, a certain person, or to the bearer of the instrument.

 

Bill of exchange (Section 5)

An instrument in writing containing an unconditional order, signed by the maker, directing a certain person to pay a certain sum of money only to, or to the order of, a certain person or to the bearer of the instrument.

Read: Dishonour of cheque for insufficiency of funds (Section 138 of NI Act)

Following are difference between promissory note and bill of exchange:

Promissory note – Only two parties, maker and the payee.

Bill of exchange – Three parties, drawer, drawee and payee. Drawer is the maker who orders the drawee to pay the bill to a certain person (called payee) or to his order. Drawer and payee may be same person.


Promissory note – Liability of maker is primary and absolute

Bill of exchange –  Liability of the drawer is secondary and conditional (if drawee fails to make payment).


Promissory note  – unconditional promise by the maker to pay to the payee or his order;

Bill of exchange  – unconditional order to the drawee to pay as per directions of drawer.


Promissory note  – cannot be drawn payable to bearer

Bill of exchange – can be so drawn payable to bearer.


Promissory note – Acceptance by the maker is not required for presenting for payment.

Bill of exchange – if payable after sight – prior acceptance of drawee or of someone on his behalf is required for presenting for payment.

Promissory note – Notice of dishonour is not required, in case of dishonour.

Bill of exchange  – Notice of dishonour is required to be given to drawer and the immediate endorsers.


Given above are the point of main difference between promissory note and bill of exchange

 

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