checks and balances

The phrase ‘checks and balances’ is always treated as a plural noun. The mistake that I usually see is that it’s used as if both of the elements in the phrase are singular: 

There must always be a check and balance. ❌

I tend to reword the sentence and ask the authors to see if they actually mean something like this:

There must always be a system of checks and balances. ✅

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