Backdating Documents – The Facts

Whilst it might be tempting at times, backdating a document is never the answer!  You might think that your lawyer is just being difficult when they advise you not to do it, but we promise, it’s for your own protection!

Backdating a document is potentially a criminal offence under section 17 (false accounting) or section (false statements by company directors) of the Theft Act 1968 and in certain circumstances it may also constitute forgery or conspiracy to defraud.  From your lawyer’s point of view, it’s also contrary to the rules of professional conduct for English solicitors.

Aside from the more obvious deterrents referred to above, another important reason to not backdate a document, is that it simply isn’t necessary.

Rebecca Gardner, Corporate & Commercial Partner at Howat Avraam Solicitors comments:  Backdating documents is a surprisingly common request from clients.  However, under English law, a contract can create (or confirm) rights relating to past events so there’s no need for them to be backdated.  If the parties to an agreement want it to take effect from a date earlier than the day on which it is signed, carefully drafted provisions can be included in the commencement clause (or any other appropriate section) of the agreement to deal with this.

There are certain limitations to the effect of backdated clauses, as it’s not possible to re-write history, but in general if the parties have agreed to a past ‘effective date’, they will be entitled to enforce all of the rights set out in the agreement against the other party from the date that they actually sign it, including in relation to the time that has already past.


Howat Avraam Solicitors provide Corporate, Commercial, Employment, Intellectual Property and Contract Dispute advice to companies, business owners and individuals.  As business owners ourselves, we have a pragmatic in-house approach to resolving issues before they arise by working alongside our clients, as part of their team.  We are commercial, practical and entrepreneurial in our approach to legal services.

To discuss any Corporate or Commercial matter with us on a no obligation basis, please contact Rebecca Gardner on 020 3735 6700 or email Rebecca at  Alternatively, visit our website at for more information.

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