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There are some ways in which the lawyer can give himself some protection in agreeing to such a request but they are not foolproof.
For example, if one wishes to backdate a document for the purposes of recording an earlier oral agreement, it should nevertheless still be drafted in such a way so as to avoid giving the incorrect impression that it was actually signed on the date stated.
The event did not happen during the time period required for the benefit so an attempt is being made to pretend that it did.
If the document is putting in place something which “should have been done” but hasn’t been, usually for tax or similar reasons, then the position is straightforward.
What confirmation of the earlier agreement did the client or the company for which the client (and lawyer) works provide?
Is the client a longstanding one who has always acted properly in the past? These are questions he will probably be asked by the judge or regulator if things go wrong and to which he will need convincing answers.
Is there an obligation on the lawyer to make at least reasonable endeavour’s to confirm that he is being told the truth?
Unfortunately, there is no simple or straight forward answer to this and it comes down to how comfortable the lawyer will be defending his position in agreeing to backdate the document if his judgment was wrong and the authorities challenge the document, possibly in a criminal complaint against the client.