Writing "Paid in Full" on a check

You just fired your lawn maintenance company because they failed to perform as promised but you still owe them for the last months service.  You’re worried that they will somehow claim you owe them additional money following your final payment and possibly even sue you for damages because they now don’t like you.  Their last words as they left your property were not very nice.  You believe they have breached any contract in existence and should not be entitled to any damages for early termination.  What can you do to cover yourself and avoid litigation?

Well here’s one legal tactic you can use and it should hold up in Court.

Write a letter and send it with your final payment.  In the notation area on your check, write something to the effect that this is a “full and final payment” or “satisfaction in full”.  In the accompanying letter, you should reiterate that the enclosed check is being tendered as a complete satisfaction of any dispute or controversy existing between you and them, and that their depositing the check constitutes their agreement that the amount paid is a complete satisfaction of any dispute or controversy.  In your letter, you should also add that if this is not agreeable to them then they should not deposit the check and instead return the check to you.

Having a check in hand, the receiving party will often just deposit the check rather than sending good money back to you and then having to go through the time and expense of a lawsuit.  Their depositing the check then allows you to put the matter behind you without having to worry about receiving another bill from them or worse yet a lawsuit.

Without the accompanying letter expressly stating the conditions attached to their depositing the check, your defense later that the matter was previously settled is less likely to hold up in Court.