Dating legal documents
Let’s take a look at the different possibilities, and what you need to know to understand the all-important “when” of an agreement.
If a contract does not specify its effective date, it goes into effect on the date it was signed by the person to whom the contract was offered for a signature.
In other words, if you sign that loan agreement today and its effective date is a month from now, you are bound to the agreement starting today even though you will not begin acting on it for a month.
Sometimes courts are asked to determine the effective dates of contracts that are completely undated.
Setting out in writing what is agreed prevents disputes as to what the terms of the agreement were – although there may be disputes on how those terms are to be interpreted!
The legal necessity for documentation applies only to certain types of transactions.
This could run the risk of civil and/or criminal sanctions in a number of jurisdictions (for example, depending on, among other things, the nature and subject matter of the contract or agreement, false accounting or false statements by directors, or even conspiracy to defraud).
In the commercial world there is often a desire for documents to take effect before the date on which they are ultimately signed.
In addition to dated documents, courts may also look at the behavior of the parties, finding the contract to be effective when the parties proceeded as though they were under the terms of the contract.
All documents, not only legally binding contracts, demand for an individual’s signature.
As the universal symbol for proof of agreement, it’s important you know why, when and how to sign your name, as well as who should sign where.
Stating that the contract or agreement will be effective from an earlier "effective date" will, however, only be effective as between or among the parties to the contract or agreement.
It will not affect those parties' obligations under the terms of the contract or agreement with regard to third parties who are not parties to the agreement.
For example, if you decide to loan money to a friend, you may draw up the contract after you’ve already made the loan, in which case you’ll want to backdate the contract, making it so that the interest started accruing the day you loaned the money.