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Just Sign on the Dotted Line... Common Contract Signing Queries

Sep 02, 2016

Below are a few questions that relate to contracts and how they are signed. It sounds easy enough, but it can often cause problems later down the line, so the importance of it should not be underestimated.  

Can I back date a contract? 

Backdating a contract is a big no-no. The main rule is to not sign any agreements that could be misleading and backdating certainly could create this. Similarly, backdating could be considered a fraudulent crime under the Theft Act and likely that, if found out, would be challenged as whether it was a valid contract or not, with various other consequences. If it’s the case that parties want it to come into effect on a different date as the date they sign it, its best to make that clear in the contract, rather than trying to back date any contract. 

The person who has signed a contract has lost authority to sign since signing – does that matter? 

The main thing to consider is whether there was authority to sign a contract at the point that person did sign it. If it later discovered that someone had been dismissed before signing, but then they signed on behalf of the company, it could effect the validity of the contract. However, if they were dismissed after signing and committing another party to the contract, it is most likely to be considered a valid contract. 

The contract has a jurisdiction clause that states that any disputes will be dealt with in English law. The contract, however, is being signed in another contract meaning it’s a different date. What date do I put on the contract – the GMT date and time or the date and time of the party in the place they are signing?

As with the first question, its important to make sure that any signing or dating of documents is not done to mislead – it ideally should be a true reflection of the circumstances, including when it was signed. To resolve this situation, there can be no objection to noting on the document when the person abroad signed the document and the date they did, and specifying the time zone. 

I have a signed contract from both parties, but we want to make some amendments – can we just make handwritten amendments? 

This will depend on any number of things, including if both parties in agreement and what exactly needs to be amended. The way in which it is varied could have implications if this was challenged later on in court. Another method sometimes seen is a small manuscript amendment with both parties initials next to it. The difficulty of course is that these changes might raise questions in the future about who made the amendment and if they were made with appropriate authority and so on. On the other hand, the addition may be so obvious and necessary that no one could possibly think to challenge it. The circumstances therefore must be looked at if this was ever occurred to decide what the best course of action was. 

I have a contract that has states it’s a 12 month rolling contract on it – does this mean I need to sign a new contract every year?

This will very much depend on whether you are a supplier or a customer and the wording of the contract. Generally speaking though, if there is a contract that will roll over to another 12 month period, it is not necessarily required to enter into another contract.

For more information and to find out how we can help you, please contact a member of our Business Law Team on 01279 755777.


Nicola Lucas

About the author

Nicola Lucas

Nicola is a member of our Business Law Team handling all the commercial requirements of her clients such as shareholder agreements and negotiating on commercial ...

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