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Under Protest (What It Means And How It Works: All You Need To Know)

What does Under Protest mean?

How do you write a check under protest?

How does it work legally speaking?

Keep reading as I have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you what it means to do something under protest in simple terms!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Does Under Protest Mean

Under protest is a term used by a person or company in complying with a certain obligation while at the same time objecting to it or expressing his or her disapproval.

For example, a company issues an to a client for $5,000.

The client does not recognize that it owes the company any money.

To avoid being considered in a breach of contract, the client makes a payment of $5,000 under protest or issues an under protest check to indicate that it is not agreeing with the fact that it must pay $5,000 and is not waiving any legal rights on claiming the money back. 

When a person makes a payment with an under protest notice, the payor is essentially telling the payee that the payment is being made without waiving any of the payor’s legal rights to dispute the payment.

Under Protest Example

When someone does something under protest, signs under protest, or makes a payment under protest, it means that the person is performing an obligation without giving up any legal rights or without admitting any liability.

The payment is made subject to a possible legal dispute.

For example, John considers that Mary owes him $10,000 under a contract.

However, Mary does not believe that she owes John $10,000 only $5,000.

In that case, Mary can issue a payment of $10,000 to John under protest where she recognizes her liability for $5,000 but clearly objects to having to pay anything over and above $5,000.

The message that Mary is sending John is that she is making a payment but she may eventually file a lawsuit against John to recover the extra $5,000 payment she is making.

Under Protest Definition

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, under protest is defined as:

While expressing objection, disagreement, or disapproval of the need to perform an act

In other words, when you are signing under protest or making a payment under protest, you are signing or payment while expressing your “objection” or “disapproval”.

The Longman dictionary has a definition of what it means to do something under protest that is well-said:

To do something while making it clear that you do not want to do it

In essence, doing something under protest means that you’re doing something that you do not want to do but are doing it to avoid certain consequences.

Meaning of Under Protest In Law

The under protest notice can be used in different ways in law to perform an obligation while asserting an objection.

A person or company may:

  • Pay under protest
  • Perform a contractual obligation under protest
  • Sign a contract under protest 
  • Write a check under protest 

For instance, paid under protest on check means that the payor is issuing a check although it is not agreeing to make the payment or has raised an objection against the fact that it was required to make a payment.

Typically, for something to be paid under protest, the payor will need to provide sufficient details surrounding why it is protesting against the payment.

That’s when a payment under protest letter is used to explain the reasons why the payer is making a payment while legally objecting to the same.

When an obligation is performed under protest (like service being rendered under a contract), the party protesting performing the obligations under protest must clearly express its legal objections in writing to document the fact that such performance is made without waiving its right to object to it at a later point in time.

Tax Payment Under Protest

In the United States, the tax laws are designed in such a way that when a person or company is required to pay taxes whether or not they intend to dispute their tax obligation.

In other words, if a person intends to contest the tax levy or imposition, he or she will need to pay the taxes and file a contestation in parallel.

To ensure that the tax payment will not be considered as an admission of liability or recognition of debt, the taxpayer will make a tax payment under protest.

The net result is that the taxpayer is voluntarily paying the taxes and will avoid penalties and possible collection measures by the tax authorities while at the same time indicating that the payment is disapproved.

If the taxes are not paid as the taxpayer files a legal action against the levy, then the tax authorities may impose interest, penalties, and even start collecting the tax by seizing the taxpayer’s property or assets.

Uniform Commercial Code Under Protest

Another situation where a party may consider the option of performing an obligation under protest or accepting certain goods under the reservation of rights is further to the Uniform Commercial Code.

Section 1-308 UCC states that a party can make an explicit reservation of rights when performing an obligation, promising performance, or assenting to performance.

In that case, the party’s rights are not affected and the person’s rights are reserved.

How To Write A Check Under Protest

To write a check under protest, you’ll need to follow a few key steps.

The first step is that you’ll need to write a check to the payee.

On the cheque, it’s important to put the notice “under protest”, “without prejudice” or something similar.

Just writing the words “under protest” or “without prejudice” on the check may not be legally enough to protect you from raising an objection against the payment.

To ensure that you are properly raising your legal objection, in addition to the cheque, you may want to send an under protest payment letter where you are expressing your disapproval for having to make a payment.

This way, you can have more confidence that your check under protest will provide you the legal protection you were looking to get (maintaining your legal rights or avoiding the admission of liability).

Payment Under Protest Risks

What are the legal risks in making a payment under protest?

Although the laws in every jurisdiction are different and the context to each case can be different, you’ll need to be mindful of the fact that making a payment under protest is not a 100% guarantee that your rights will be protected.

There may be instances when a party makes a payment that was in fact not due but the payor may not be in a position to recover the sums paid in the future.

Fundamentally, the person performing an obligation under protest or making a payment under protest must eventually prove that the payment was not due or demonstrate valid grounds that the payee must return the monies.

If the person makes a payment under protest but is unable to justify why the sums should be recovered, the payor may run the risk of not getting the under protest payment back.

There are other cases when the payment was not due but the payor made a payment under protest but received a consideration that it benefited from.

In that case, although the payment was made under protest for a particular objection, the court may not order the payee to return the funds if the payor ended up receiving another form of consideration.

Companies and individuals should consult a business lawyer or litigation lawyer to get advice on the specific circumstances of their case to avoid any unintended consequences.

Under Protest Meaning Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

What is the meaning of “under protest”?

How does paying under protest work?

Making a payment under protest or performing an obligation under protest is a way that you can avoid being found in breach of a contract or your legal obligations while at the same time preserving your right to object to the obligation in question.

If you are dealing with a legal situation where you need advice on whether or not you should make a payment under protest, write a check under protest, or do something under protest, you should consult with a qualified attorney.

I hope that you are now knowledgeable enough to deal with under protest checks, letters, contracts, or other legal documents.

Good luck!

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Now, let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Under Protest Meaning

  • “Under protest” means that a person is doing something unwillingly to avoid legal trouble or without waiving legal rights
  • The objective of performing an obligation under protest or making a payment under protest is to ensure that the payor is not recognizing any form of liability or is not waiving any legal rights to object against the obligation 
  • To write a check under protest, you’ll need to indicate an under protest statement or something similar on the cheque (generally “without prejudice”) and express your objections in writing to ensure the payee understands the basis on which you are paying but reserving your legal rights 
  • The most common areas where payments are made under protest is to pay the tax authorities although the taxpayer intends to contest the tax levy or under the Uniform Commercial Code when a party makes an express reservation of rights 
Confidentiality clause 
Dismissed without prejudice 
Double jeopardy clause 
Indemnification clause 
Involuntary dismissal 
Notice of default
Notice of termination 
Open communication 
Option to accelerate 
Prima facie evidence 
Subject to contract 
Tax ID Number
Termination for cause
Termination for convenience clause
Termination with prejudice 
Uncovered option
Under advisement 
Under insurance 
Under seal 
Voluntary dismissal 
What does I object mean
Without prejudice
Accord and satisfaction 
All rights reserved 
Breach of contract
Cease and desist 
Contract law
Contractual performance 
Dismissed with prejudice
Injunctive relief 
Litigation lawyer 
Merchant law 
Motion to compel 
Motion to dismiss 
Motion to quash subpoena 
Mutual assent 
Option to accelerate at will 
Prima facie evidence 
Res judicata 
Termination for convenience 
Types of summons
UCC 1-103
UCC 1-201
UCC 1-207
UCC 1-301
UCC 1-308 
UCC Article 2
Under reserve
Without prior notice
Editorial Staff
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer by trade and an entrepreneur by spirit. I specialize in law, business, marketing, and technology (and love it!). I'm an expert SEO and content marketer where I deeply enjoy writing content in highly competitive fields. On this blog, I share my experiences, knowledge, and provide you with golden nuggets of useful information. Enjoy!

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