There are some exceptions to the former; none (based on my experience) to the latter. All you have to do is write in a prior date and sign it. In most agreements, using a prior date to make it look like it was signed earlier is the wrong way to go. The problem is that it may not work in every situation.

However, there is no right answer for all situations. The easiest way is to make the contract happen on the date that it is signed. There it is, the document is signed and delivered as if it were signed and delivered weeks ago, months ago, even years ago. For example, let’s suppose there is a confidentiality provision in the agreement or some other obligation that was supposed to happen prior to signing.

For a shorter piece with a few practical tips see Backdating – it’s illegal isn’t it?

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Typically, this is done by stating at the beginning of the contract that However, if there are intellectual property rights, confidentiality obligations or other pre-existing obligations, you may have a problem because any rights arising prior to signing the contract would be lost. How do you hold someone responsible for doing something before they knew it was an obligation? Sometimes, the best solution is just to fix the problem.

Read each paragraph and consider what it means if you sign the agreement today.

You remember that your lawyer once told you that without a contract you do not legally own your website. Finally you prepare the contract and your designer agrees to sign it. Should it be dated when the contract is signed or back when you first started working together? The reason contract dates are important is because that is when your legal rights begin.

For example, if the contract is dated today, who owns that portion of the website code that was developed prior to signing the agreement? So, you paid the designer in full but you don’t own the website?

Let’s suppose you hire a web designer to build a new website.

Perhaps, you don’t know exactly what kind of website you need or how much it will cost.(Jason Mark Anderman illustrates the logistics problem well in this comment to a backdating post on Ken Adams’s blog.) There’s nothing inherently illegal or unethical about backdating contracts, although backdating can certainly be both unethical and illegal, depending on the situation.For those with an hour to kill thinking about the issues, Jeffrey Kwall and Stuart Duhl wrote an excellent article on backdating that was published in Business Lawyer in 2008.Yes, that’s the problem and that’s when backdating comes in.Ideally, the agreement would be signed when you first started working together, but that didn’t happen.FH Partners argued on appeal that, although the FDIC didn’t own the loan on December 16, 2008, the FDIC’s backdated transaction with Weatherford remedied the problem retroactively.