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Assume that two parties enter into an written agreement, the

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Assume that two parties enter into an written agreement, the effective date of which is defined as the date of last signature to the agreement. By circumstances unknown, the date of last signature on one party's copy of the agreement is clearly 15 January 2009 but the date of last signature on the other party's copy of the agreement is clearly 10 February 2009. Legally, then, what is the effective date of the agreement?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Does the party whose signature is the one in dispute agree that both signatures are theirs and are genuine?


There's no dispute over the authenticity of the signatures. It's a little more complicated. Party A signed two hard copies of the agreement, then sent by email a PDF of one of those hard copies to Party B who signed and dated it and returned it to Party A via PDF. Party A also sent the original hard copies to B in the post for signing, Party B signed the hard copies but used a later date, then sent a hard copy back to A. Thus the PDF version has an earlier last date of signature and the wet ink copy held by A has a later date. (It is not know if B retained the wet ink copy or just has the PDF.)


Isn't it the wet ink copy that matters most?

Ben Jones :

No it is not the wet ink copy that matters most, not unless it was a specific condition that this is the only way the signature would be valid, but if only a signature was required without going into such specifics then it would not matter. As long as the party had signed the agreement then that is when the agreement would have become valid. It does not matter that the first time this was done it was sent back in pdf format. After all a valid signature was made and then the document was scanned and returned. Regardless of whether the original document with the wet ink was kept, it is still a fact that a valid signature was made on the earlier date and that is when it is most likely the contract would run from.

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