Using a notary to avoid potential contract disputes

Business owners in Maryland will likely be involved in some sort of contract dispute at one time or another. While some of these disputes may be complex in nature and difficult to anticipate, others could be avoided by taking a few straightforward preventative steps. Individuals may sometimes attempt to avoid their contractual obligations by claiming that they never signed the document in the first place, and proving that they did could take time and cost money. This is why it may be prudent to have all signatures on a business contract notarized.

Notaries have a commission from state or county authorities to witness and acknowledge a signature. They check the identification of the individual signing the document and then sign the document themselves before affixing a seal. Should the individual later claim that they did not sign the contract, a notarized signature will usually be sufficient evidence for a court to consider the document valid.

Another good reason to have signatures on a contract notarized is that notaries are usually required to be bonded and insured. This means that if injury, loss or damage is suffered due to a notary’s mistake, compensation would be paid. While the amount of compensation may be limited, it could still be sufficient to cover the costs of proving that the document was actually signed. Mistakes made by a notary could include failing to check the identification of an individual signing a document or not physically witnessing the document being signed.

Business transactions are often entered into with a great deal of anticipation, and it is not uncommon for enthusiasm to trump prudence in these situations. An experienced business law attorney will likely be familiar with the optimistic outlook that is common among entrepreneurs, and a cautionary voice may prove valuable.

Source:, “Avoiding Contract Disputes“, Chris Kelleher, November 09, 2014

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