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Copyright (c) 2010 Pepperdine University School of Law
Pepperdine Law Review
Author: Dale A. Whitman*
The premise of this paper is that the concept of negotiability of promissory notes, which derives in modern law from Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code, is not only useless but positively detrimental to the operation of the modern secondary mortgage market. Therefore, the concept ought to be eliminated from the law of mortgage notes.
This is not a new idea. More than a decade ago, Professor Ronald Mann made the point that negotiability is largely irrelevant in every field of consumer and commercial payment systems, including mortgages. 1 But Mann’s article made no specific recommendations for change, and no change has occurred.
I propose here to examine the ways in which negotiability and the holder in due course doctrine of Article 3 actually impair the trading of mortgages. Doing so, I conclude that these legal principles have no practical value to the parties in the mortgage system, but that they impose significant and unnecessary costs on those parties. I conclude with a recommendation for a simple change in Article 3 that would do away with the negotiability of mortgage notes.
I. The Secondary Mortgage Market
In this era, it is a relatively rare mortgage that is held in portfolio for its full term by the originating lender. Instead, the vast majority of mortgages are either traded on the secondary market to an investor who will hold them, 2 or to an issuer (commonly an investment banker) who will securitize them. Securitization …
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