Start Impact of backdating

Impact of backdating

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.

A client or, in the case of an in house lawyer colleague (who for the purposes of this article will also be considered a client), asks you to prepare a document and then your heart sinks as he says “oh and it has to be dated” and gives a date which has already passed.

Is it legal to comply with the request or must it always be refused outright?

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.

Therefore, if in doubt it is best to say “no” or to take external legal advice if appropriate.