Do you have to date a written Contract? – and other burning New York contract questions

Do you have to date a written contract?

No.  You should date the contract as a matter of fact, but if you don't, you still have a valid and enforceable contract.

Can you predate or postdate a contract?

Yes.  If you do so, by stating something like "agreement between x and y, dated as of ____", it means that the contract will be effective, i.e. in effect/enforceable, as of that date.

Do you have to notarize a contract?

No.  In any event, the notary would not notarize the contract, but only attest that the signatures on the contract are the signatures of the person named as a signatory to the contract.  You could require (i.e. it is optional) notarization of signatures, if you want to have super solid evidence that the person claiming to sign the contract is really that person.  But it is really uncommon to do that, unless you are dealing with million dollar contracts.

Speaking of signatures, what is that exactly?

A “signature” can be any mark, stamp, writing (and so forth) on a document, as long as it was put there with the intent to execute such document.  An “electronic signature” is an electronic sound, symbol, or the like, connected with an electronic record, which was implemented by a person with the intent to execute or sign the electronic record.  

In most cases, regular signatures and electronic signatures are valid for contract executions.

What if the contract hasn't been signed by the parties?

An unsigned contract may be enforceable, provided there is objective evidence establishing that the parties intended to be bound.  Exception:  Where the parties to a contract make actual signing a condition to the effectiveness of the contract, there is no contract until they have signed, although all the terms have been agreed on.  

Do I have to keep an original copy of the contract?

No, a scanned copy of the contract with the signatures on it should be fine. 

 **This post is for informational purposes only,  For legal advice contact a business lawyer**

About Imke Ratschko


Imke Ratschko is a New York Attorney helping small businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs with all things "Small Business Law," such as litigation, contracts, business owner disputes, shareholder and operating agreements, sale or purchase of a business, investors, and starting a business. You can reach her at 212.253.1027.

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