Reliable information on signing on behalf of someone else

Have you ever been assigned to sign documents on behalf of another and are unsure if it’s legal? This Business Kitz blog will go into detail regarding the law and the ability to sign on behalf of another.

What is forgery?

A person commits forgery when they modify a legally relevant document to deceive another person, according to the law. A legal document affects legal rights or responsibilities. If someone has asked you to sign a legal document on their behalf, you are assisting that person and are not intending to defraud them. This would not be a fraud as you are signing on behalf of someone who has permitted you to. In saying this, there must be a procedure that should be followed to make clear that you have permission to sign on the behalf of the person. However, if you are signing on behalf of someone else without permission, that is classified as forgery. Under Section 144.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995, there is a maximum penalty of ten years in jail for signing on behalf of someone else without permission.

How to sign as an authorised representative?

When one person authorises signing on behalf of someone else, the signer is effectively acting as the other person’s authorised representative. Under the law, this is known as “procuration,” which means “acting on behalf of another with the authority of the other”. 

Signing as a proxy or agent is restricted to a single purpose, such as signing your lease. This is referred to as “power of attorney” when a person is authorised to serve as another’s agent for all legal reasons (as opposed to the specific, restricted act that you have been chosen to do). A person who has power of attorney for another may sign all legally relevant documents on the other person’s behalf.

Signing for someone else with permission

If you are signing on behalf of someone else the signer must have received clear permission from the person they are signing for. Some legal documents may require you to have written proof of the individual permitting you, this could be in the form of a text message, email or a handwritten document. If you only have verbal permission from the person you’re signing for, if there is no written permission, the company responsible for the legal document (landlord, law firm, bank), may not allow you to sign without written proof. It is essential that you take evidence of the written permission of another, to avoid these instances (so as to not waste either your time, or the person who is responsible for the document).

What is the special designation for signing for another? 

Once you have secured written permission for signing on behalf of someone else, you need to ensure to sign in a way that shows you understand you’re signing on their behalf. Using the initials “p.p.” before your signature on behalf of the individual you’re signing for, indicates that the signature is being procured (that is, on behalf of another with permission). To indicate that you are signing under procuration; type or handwrite the letters just to the left of your signature.

Legal advice

If you require further assistance regarding signing on behalf of someone else,  you should seek legal advice. The act of forgery is a serious offence, with the imposition of a range of criminal charges for an offender. Our sister company, Legal Kitz can assist with ensuring that your matter is dealt with timely and as cost-efficient as possible. Click here to book a FREE consultation with one of our highly experienced solicitors today, or contact them at info@legalkitz.com.au or by calling 1300 988 954.

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