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It’s not unusual for parties to a contract to want the written agreement to cover a period before it’s actually signed.There are any number of contexts where this comes up — some legitimate and others not exactly aboveboard — but the logistics of negotiating and signing contracts are such that the issue is unavoidable.For a shorter piece with a few practical tips see Backdating – it’s illegal isn’t it?Setting aside such issues, avoiding unwanted side effects of backdating contracts can be tricky, especially when the purported effective date of an agreement is several months before the date it was actually signed, as can be seen in involves the ownership of a promissory note that was made to a bank in connection with a loan.1990) held that: “Illinois courts have, in the past, permitted the “relation back” theory of contract effectiveness: that is, contractual terms may be effective for a period before the contract is executed, so long as such coverage is clear from the face of the contract: In the law of contracts, it is elementary that ordinarily a contract speaks from the day of its date, regardless of when it was executed and delivered.It is of common occurrence in connection with deeds, leases and other contracts that, while they are not in effect at all and have no legal existence until delivered, yet, in respect to the date of delivery, they, in point of commencement, relate back or commence in the future.
The appellate court then considered whether, assuming that the FDIC/Weatherford transaction was retroactively effective (which it wasn’t), the retroactivity of that transaction had any legal effect on the transaction between the FDIC and FH Partners.
As to the first issue, the transaction between the FDIC and Weatherford couldn’t have retroactive effect unless the parties showed a clear intent for the transaction to be retroactive.
The court stated the general rule that “a written contract becomes binding when it is finally executed or delivered, unless a different intent appears.” Although the face of the main agreement in the FDIC/Weatherford transaction expressed an intended effective date of November 7, 2008, ancillary documents signed in connection with the transaction weren’t backdated, and the main agreement didn’t explain why it was backdated.
The facts are a bit complicated, involving circumstances surrounding the failure of a bank and transactions in the bank’s loans preceding the failure as well as transactions of the FDIC as the bank’s receiver.
Here’s a simplified timeline: FH Partners made a demand on the debtor for payment of the loan and eventually sued the debtor and guarantors.
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.