Playing Games With the Date Next to the Signature

Having parties to a contract date their signatures makes sense when there’s a lag time between when the first party signs and the last party signs. And some auditors are requiring that their clients use dated signatures in all their contracts.

But dating signatures can be a nuisance. As I noted in this November 2008 blog post, one problem is that parties sometimes return signed signature pages without filling in the date next to the signature.

Here’s another potential problem: what if the person signing puts in a date other than the date when they signed? Or they sign and date the contract but wait a few days before returning it? In either case, the result could be that the contract is given a date that is different from the date that would have been used if the person signing had put in the actual date and promptly returned the signature page. This could be more of a nuisance than playing games with the date in the introductory clause—the date you use in the introductory clause is something the parties have to agree on, whereas someone signing a contract has unfettered discretion to give their signature whatever date they want.

I have no idea whether this is a real issue. But the simplest fix would be to use a signature-automation solution such as EchoSign or DocuSign.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.