Bounced cheques up to 150 euros cease to be a crime

A CHEQUE drawn up to an amount of 150 euros and left unpaid will no longer be considered a criminal offence, following a proposal made by the government, which was recently approved at the Assembleia da República.

In 1997, according to the law, the maximum value allowed for unpaid cheques was fixed at 62.50 euros and, since then, it has been considered a crime if a cheque of that amount or more is drawn without there being sufficient funds to cover the payment.

“This initiative is included in a package of new measures that have been proposed in order to free-up the courts,” says the Minister for Justice, Alberto Costa.

According to Costa, “in Lisbon alone, 20 magistrates and 40 staff are permanently dealing with cases for crimes relating to unpaid cheques”.

In parliament, Alberto Costa highlighted the fact that in countries like the US, the UK and Germany, this “was never a crime”, and has not been considered a crime in countries like Spain and France since the nineties.

However, he continued by saying: “In Portugal, now is not the time to totally de-criminalise bounced cheques”. This is because the minister considers that the measure could be viewed as a “sign of negligence” at a time when the government is “asking the Portuguese people to make sacrifices”.