People often ask me if they need the original signed version of an agreement that they sign as a contracting party. Remember that I am discussing alarm contracts here. There are documents, such as deeds, submitted to government agencies that require originals and even specific color ink. Why is this so important? Because the correct signature in the name of a company prevents any subsequent claims from making the person signing the contract personally liable for the contractual obligations of the company. It is important to note that the Joint Work Program Guidelines may mean that document retention should not be extended only to the signed contract. If the parties have agreed on a protocol prior to execution that governs how they will sign the document, it is useful and may even be necessary to prove this protocol. And the more the completion deviates from a traditional old-fashioned closure (with paper originals, in final form, with wet ink signatures), the more important the audit trail becomes. In the somewhat risky scenario of attaching pre-signed signature pages to a document that is not yet complete at the time of signing, parties should insist on proof that the signatory has authorized their representative (usually counsel) to do so. The signing of a contract means that the parties signing the document accept the terms and conditions contained therein and their contractual obligations. Finally, faxes and electronic transmissions are now routinely accepted as sufficient proof of what they purport to be. Decades ago, some states began to accept faxes as preliminary evidence of agreement. However, as faxes often degenerated, they were not always decisive for proof.

In fact, often dismissed as hearsay. Many courthouses needed an original within a certain amount of time to replace thin fax sheets. But fortunately, as fax records have become less prone to data errors and fax paper has been replaced by permanent printing, they have also gained credibility. While a contract doesn`t need to be dated to be valid and enforceable, it`s a good idea to do so. Agreeing on a contract will help you positively identify it later if necessary and place it in the right chronological context. Even in Michigan, it`s legal to make an appointment before a contract. In other words, you can expect your contract to be concluded “by” or “effective” at a time prior to the actual date of signing the contract. In this case, the contract comes into force retroactively “from” or “effect” to that earlier date. The smartest way to manage contracts is to create a well-designed document. It`s a good idea to sign one online, because that way each party has a legal copy and understands their responsibilities. You`ll probably feel more confident signing a contract, if your lawyer writes it for you, or if you write it yourself and know its language and terms. The signing of the contract means that the parties signing the document accept the terms and conditions contained therein and their contractual obligations.3 min spent reading The original is always the best.

In law, we have what is called the best rule of excellence. Essentially, if you present evidence in court, it must be the best evidence available. So if a signed agreement is proof, then the agreement with the original signatures of both parties is the best proof. Everything else is a second best option. For example, an agreement with an original signature and a copy of the other signature. Or a photocopy of an agreement bearing the two original signatures. It will always be possible to raise questions about second-best evidence. For example, what is the quality of the copy? Is the copy intact? Did someone change the copy? Could someone have changed it? An original signed copy of a legal document is always an acceptable consideration. In some cases, the signature must be signed in the presence of a notary or verified by an identity document. Each party should receive an original signed copy of the contract for their records. This means that if there are two contracting parties, two identical contracts must be signed.

The importance cannot be overstated. Of course, you don`t want a company to pretend that it doesn`t have to abide by the contract because it was signed by someone who wasn`t authorized to do so. Therefore, if the other party is a corporation, you need to make sure that the corporation actually exists, that the person signing on behalf of the corporation has the authority to do so, and that the contract has been approved by the shareholders or directors of the corporation. When you sign a contract, do you need an “original” – that is, a contract with the original signatures of all parties – for it to be valid or enforceable? It may sound basic (and it is!), but you`d be surprised how often it passes in the hustle and bustle of business. While you don`t necessarily need to sign an agreement for it to be valid, why take this chance? There is absolutely no better way to prove that a party intended to be bound by a contract than to whip it and show its signature on the document. If the parties to a contract may not sign it at the same time, you can include a section in the contract that states that the contract is only legally binding if it is signed by both parties. As early as the 18th century, the “best evidence rule” precluded reliance on secondary evidence to prove the contents of a document. The original was to be produced. Fortunately, the law has evolved. In fact, such a rule would not be practical in the age of photocopiers, faxes and e-mail. Modern English courts force a photocopy or PDF as an original.

The court considers the copy authentic until someone argues otherwise. You need to know the protocols surrounding signing a contract if you want to execute a contract in a timely manner. This can help speed up a deal. Failure to comply with formalities may result in unnecessary delays. Each party should receive an original signed copy of the contract for their records. This means that if there are two contracting parties, two identical contracts must be signed. An original copy of the contract should be returned to you and an original copy should be sent to the other party. Such arguments are relatively rare. However, if they occur, the court will hear evidence (including computer evidence) about the making of the copy.

However, the technical admissibility of copies does not mean that the parties can freely reject the originals. As Jonathan Parker LJ noted ([2001]1 WLR 277, 308): “. The “obligation” of a holding party to produce the original as evidence is not based on a rule of law, but merely reflects the fact that, precisely for this reason, a party in possession of a document will not be able to state to satisfaction that it has not produced it when it asks the court to: admit secondary evidence of its contents … ». Lawyers began to think about how to reconcile these statements with modern business reality. Signatories may not be physically present to sign in advance or distribute a physical document between them. If these are indeed the prerequisites for valid enforcement, should a party certainly present the signed paper document at trial to prove that the requirements have been met? A joint working group consisting of the Law Society`s Corporations Committee and the City of London`s Corporate and Finance Sub-Committees has published non-binding guidelines (JWP Guidelines) to assist transactional lawyers. Simply put, the JWP guidelines provide a sliding scale of formalities to be followed depending on the type of document (and in particular, whether the law provides for formalities for that document). The underlying assumption is that a signature sent by e-mail or facsimile can be an original signature in the same way as a signature with “wet ink” and that the resulting document is an “original”. If the procedure allows for the use of a pre-signed signature page, the agreement is binding on the signatory if the person attaching it to the final document had the authority to do so. So don`t lose sleep if you have a copy but not the original. You may fear that in the event of a dispute (e.g. breach of contract, debt collection issues, etc.), you will not be able to enforce a contract without an original signature.

Fortunately, the law recognizes that people may never be able to obtain, keep, misplace or lose an original. The enforceability of a contract should not depend on the formality of an original. Therefore, the rules of evidence allow a party to submit a copy of a signed contract to a court as proof of the existence of the contract.