Example of backdating
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.However in practice, for both good reasons and bad, backdating of documents does occur.
Is it legal to comply with the request or must it always be refused outright?Another way is to state at the beginning of the document that it is made “as of” the required date.However, the actual date of signature should nevertheless be set out in the attestation clause at the end to avoid any claims that the document was intentionally misleading.What confirmation of the earlier agreement did the client or the company for which the client (and lawyer) works provide?Is the client a longstanding one who has always acted properly in the past? These are questions he will probably be asked by the judge or regulator if things go wrong and to which he will need convincing answers.There are some ways in which the lawyer can give himself some protection in agreeing to such a request but they are not foolproof.
For example, if one wishes to backdate a document for the purposes of recording an earlier oral agreement, it should nevertheless still be drafted in such a way so as to avoid giving the incorrect impression that it was actually signed on the date stated.
The best way to achieve this is to state openly in the document that it is recording an earlier oral agreement made on, and so is with effect from, a particular date and then date it the actual date it was signed.
The position is then clear to all who subsequently look at the document.
Therefore, if in doubt it is best to say “no” or to take external legal advice if appropriate.
One of the thornier issues which comes up in legal practice from time to time is the backdating of documents.
Needless to say, even these methods of “backdating” a document should not be used when there was no earlier agreement and the document is just an attempt to give a false impression that something occurred on an earlier date than it did.