As enshrined in UCP 600 article 33, a bank has no obligation to accept a presentation outside of its banking hours. Wording similar to this has been in existence since UCP 82. This article will be applicable if the credit is silent in respect to the hours of presentation and impacts on all other articles / sub-articles in UCP 600 that address presentation.
The first point to bear in mind is that a bank is not actually prohibited from accepting a presentation outside its banking hours. Therefore, provided a presenter can make appropriate arrangements, this may be feasible.
However, the question occasionally arises as to the understanding of what actually determines banking hours.
As stated in the ‘Commentary on UCP 600' (ICC Publication No. 680), reference to ‘banking hours' means those hours applicable locally to the nominated bank or to the issuing bank, depending on which bank the presentation is to be made to. By implication, it would be expected that this would refer to those hours the bank is open for the handling of documentary credit transactions.
Under ICC Opinion R265, which referred to a transaction subject to UCP 500, documents were presented to an issuing bank at 13.30hrs on a Saturday. Although the mail centre of the issuing bank was open 24 hours a day, the business hours of the documentary credits department on a Saturday were from 09.00hrs to 13.00hrs. The documentary credits department only received the documents on the next business day, the following Monday. The Opinion concluded that as presentation was made to the mail centre, which was open, Saturday must be considered as the day of presentation. It was further stated that the only exception to this would be where the letter of credit specifically requested that presentation be made to the documentary credits department rather than just to the bank - in which case the period would commence from the day the department received the documents.
It should be noted that a bank could accept a presentation of documents outside its banking hours but qualify its receipt i.e., as having been received on the next banking day.
This issue was again addressed in ICC Opinion R648 (TA635rev). The question was whether the day of presentation was to be a banking day even if a bank's mail receiving unit, that may be open on a non-banking day, received the documents. The Opinion clarified that the day of presentation could be a banking or non-banking day. UCP 600 article 33 allows a bank to decline any presentation made outside of its stated banking hours regardless of whether it is a banking day, for the purpose of an act subject to the rules to be performed or on a day that the bank's mail receiving unit is open, but a non-banking day for the purposes of UCP 600. Whether or not a presentation is allowed outside the banking hours of the trade department of a bank is for that bank to decide.