Definition of backdating

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However, such doctrines are normally limited to situations where one party backdates the contract without the knowledge or consent of the other.

Where both parties consent to the backdating of the document, normally the courts in common law countries will simply disregard the backdating of the document, and treat the rights as accruing from the date when the document was actually executed.

But even if a person is not charged with a crime, the fact that a crime can be demonstrated to have occurred may still impact the rights of the parties.

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However, where lay persons write contracts themselves or download a from the internet, often these legal niceties are lost upon them.

Although in exceptional cases – where third party rights are not affected – the courts might be persuaded to treat the stated date as being the effective date, a situation we return to below. There are rare occasions when it may be permissible or even justified to do so.

A commonly used example is where the parties had originally signed a document, but the original had been lost or destroyed before it could be stamped or filed.

One of the thornier issues which comes up in legal practice from time to time is the backdating of documents.

Legally speaking, this is something that you should not do – or more accurately, there will only ever rarely be occasions when this is appropriate to do.

In practice what should happen is that the principal should ratify the signatory’s act as agent, and the courts are usually happen to construe signing a backdated power of attorney as misguided (but effective) attempt to ratify by conduct.

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