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The agreement could specify, amongst other things, that costs and revenue would be apportioned by reference to the historic effective date, with adjusting payments being made accordingly.This type of arrangement would not bind third parties, but it may be effective from an accounting and tax perspective depending on the length of time which has elapsed since the intended historic effective date.You will also need to consider two other things from a legal perspective.Firstly, additional formalities may be needed to complete the legal transfer of assets or granting of rights.Lawyers who were trained in commonwealth jurisdictions may have an ingrained concept that backdating a document is generally improper, if not illegal.This is reflected in the Linklaters article Execution of Documents: Five Common Questions Answered, which offers the following advice for in-house lawyers: “(i) contracts may only be backdated, absent fraud, in circumstances where an original form has been lost or where terms have been fully agreed but signatures have been left to a later date and (ii) deeds may never be backdated.” Unfortunately, the article offers scant authority, and a search on Google reveals little else on the subject from the commonwealth world.This is one of the most common issues which comes up in the context of group reorganisations or intercompany agreements. Giving a document a date which is earlier than the date when it was actually signed, would almost certainly constitute fraud.Although it may have been intended to put in place a new arrangement by a particular date – often a year end – that date may now have passed. Obviously the ideal position is to put in place the legal documents in advance. Well, it depends on what was transferred, and whether it can be said that the relevant transaction has already happened.
Despite recent controversies surrounding the backdating of executive stock options, the general attitude in the US is that backdating is not wrong (or right), per se.
In this article, the author writes: “Backdating by itself is not generally, at least with respect to private agreements, illegal.
Rather, it is the use of the backdated documents by the parties or their counsel that may violate the law.” The US approach seems to be founded on the principle that parties to an agreement (or deed) are free to agree that the document is to take effect prior to the date of execution – this is often denoted by dating the document “as of” the earlier date. Bradley Real Estate Trust, the US Court of Appeals (7th Cir.
Documenting a transaction which has already happened One possible scenario is that the relevant transaction has already happened, but just hasn’t been documented yet.
For example, there may have been a transfer of trade from one group company to another on a particular date.