We are often asked to compare a ‘disputed’ signature with just one known signature, or specimen signature, from an individual. A client might say that it’s ‘obviously’ different…. and “please can I have a report to confirm the signature is forged”.
It is not that simple. No person will write their signature in exactly the same way twice - there is always a degree of natural variation. Just because one signature looks different from the disputed signature, it does not necessarily mean that they were written by different people. Often the single comparison signature might be a passport or a driving licence - which can be tiny, digitised signatures that are simply not suitable for a comparison.
We usually need at least 10 - 15 documents showing specimen signatures of the writer so that their ‘natural variation’ can be assessed. The general construction and pen path is likely to be similar but there will always be small variations in features like the subtle details, the size, or the position of letters relative to one another.
Once the 'range of variation' has been established, the expert will consider whether the disputed signature falls within that natural variation and whether it could be written by the same person. They will consider reasons for any differences - could the signature have been written on an unusual surface, might there be health issues, was it written in a hurry?
What sort of signatures do you need for comparison? A variety of documents from different dates, for example:
Formal documents - legal agreements,, bank applications, witness statements
Property documents - tenancy agreements, TR1 forms, rent books
Financial documents - receipts, hire agreements, invoices
Household documents - copies of bank cards, membership cards, library cards, licences
We understand that originals are not always available so we can use good quality copies where necessary - ideally high resolution image scans or photographs. Preferably not a ‘quick scan’ to a pdf which causes major loss in quality. More about this in a future blog post!
As always we are happy to advise about potential examinations and documents that are required - feel free to contact us by email or phone to discuss your case.