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Personal signature: Legal considerations

Personal signature

A lot of books are dedicated to the legal considerations of personal signatures. The lawyers are aware of the problems caused by signatures forging and people being inattentive when studying and signing the agreement.

A signature is a kind of individual properties of a citizen like his name and home address (articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation). However there is no official law regulating the matter of personal signatures.

Usually, a signature is considered to be the prime document entry and the document signed by the Chief Executive is usually enough to prove its validity. According to the science of law, the document entries are: signature, seal, number, date, blank series and number (if there are any), personal data on the people signing the document and all the signatures and stamps.  Some kinds of documents like bills of exchange and letter of attorney require obligatory presence of a stamp alongside with a signature. However, a stamp is not obligatory put on agreements and is said to be the “secondary entry”.

A signature for an average citizen is the evidence of a person accepting all the rights and duties which the document signing implies. On entering the legal relations the person thereby takes up the responsibilities which even not being mentioned in the agreement are nevertheless determined by the legislation system for this kind of legal relations. Therefore, merely reading the agreement is not enough: ideally one should be aware of the legal regulation mechanisms. This is where the well-known principle works: ignorance of the law is no excuse.  It is desirable a person first consulted the lawyer.

Mind that the legal value of a signature is not legally regulated but is subject to general rules of transaction processing. For instance, the concluded agreement is signed by the two parties.

Punishments for signatures forgery depends on the type of document and what it actually resulted in: it can be cheating, stealing or legacy signature forging.  Very often signature cheating is only a means of committing a crime, not an independent offence. The signature forgery as an autonomous crime is mentioned in article 142 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and touches upon forgery of electoral documents, vote returns and   forgery of electors’ signatures.

How can one protect his signature from being forged? Try to invent a signature which would be very difficult to copy. However, to shift from a simpler signature to a more elaborate one is not an easy matter: your signature “seals” numerous documents and it can be difficult to explain in a shop, for instance, why the signatures on a cheque and credit card do not correlate. The trials concerning authenticity of signatures do not normally result in anything: a signature was too simple to copy and the expert cannot say if the signature was forged. Among the main recommendations to avoid signature forgery are signature complicity, its continuity (avoid intervals); observance of the writing tempo and also little signature variability is allowed.

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