Backdating email


Needless to say, even these methods of “backdating” a document should not be used when there was no earlier agreement and the document is just an attempt to give a false impression that something occurred on an earlier date than it did.Because even putting “as of” a certain date will not protect the lawyer from implication in a criminal act if the purpose of the backdating is actually to defraud or mislead the taxman, any regulatory authority or even any other individual and the lawyer knew or should have known that this was the case.So as can be seen, the issue of backdating can be a contentious one.It is not straight forward and can give problems to any lawyer that agrees to backdate a document, even if he makes it clear on the document that it is backdated, as he must be careful to make sure that he knows why the document is being backdated and that it is being done for a legitimate reason.Therefore, if in doubt it is best to say “no” or to take external legal advice if appropriate.Scheduled emails are sent at random times to a group of about sixty five users, eight times a month.Is there an obligation on the lawyer to make at least reasonable endeavour’s to confirm that he is being told the truth?Unfortunately, there is no simple or straight forward answer to this and it comes down to how comfortable the lawyer will be defending his position in agreeing to backdate the document if his judgment was wrong and the authorities challenge the document, possibly in a criminal complaint against the client.

The position is then clear to all who subsequently look at the document.He also has no way of knowing whether the backdating will be scrutinized by a regulatory authority or even a Court.For example, will the document be provided in support of the party’s tax position giving the impression that a signed legal contact was in place before it was?The difficult question for a lawyer to answer is to what extent does he have to enquire into the veracity of his client’s statement that the document “is just recording an earlier agreement”?Does he need to check to see whether that was actually the case or can he take an ostrich-like position and put his head in the sand and not ask any questions?For example, if a seller had sold his house in December then the seller could have taken advantage of certain tax benefits.

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