Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Imputation of Payments Definition:

A civil law term: a system that allocates monies received from a debtor who has more than one debt and who has not, with the payment, specified to the creditor to which debt the monies are applied.

The civil law, generally, as each jurisdiction may provide differently, sets out a set of rules governing situations where imputation of payment arises.

Generally, the debtor has the initial option to designate the debt to which he wants the payment to apply. Failing that, the payment will be imputed and applied at the choice of the creditor. Further, if neither has given direction, the law imputes payment against the largest of the debts. If several debts are of the same residual amount, then the oldest debt gate paid down.

The imputation of payment rules of the Canadian civil law jurisdiction of Québec are set out starting at §1569 of the Quebec Civil Code. This, from §1572:

"In the absence of imputation by the parties, payment is imputed first to the debt that is due. Where several debts are due, payment is imputed to the debt which the debtor has the greatest interest in paying. Where the debtor has the same interest in paying several debts, payment is imputed to the debt that became due first; if all of the debts became due at the same time, however, payment is imputed proportionately."

French: imputation de paiement.


  • Civil Code of Québec, S.Q. 1991, c. 64
  • Howe, W., Studies in the Civil Law (Littleton, Colorado: Fred B. Rothman & Co., 1980), page 156-157.

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