How it Works & Rates

How it Works & Rates

Procedure for cases involving Questioned Signatures on Wills or Contracts:

Step 1

Initial consultation at no charge in order to discuss the case. Alternatively, clients can email me a scan of the disputed document.

Step 2

Forensic signature and handwriting examinations are comparative in nature. Please provide the following if possible:

Complete original document containing the questioned signature and/or initials. (Sometimes a site visit will be necessary to inspect a will at the Master of the High Court’s office, or to inspect a disputed document at an attorney’s office).

Exemplars (documents containing known or admitted signatures/initials/handwriting) for comparison purposes that meet certain important criteria:

  • They must the same style as the questioned material. The most important forensic rule is to compare ‘like with like’, ie initials to initials, formal signatures to formal signatures, casual signatures to casual, cursive writing to cursive, printed to printed etc.
  • Contemporaneous (written as close to the date of the questioned signatures as possible) – approximately 3 years before or afterwards. This is because handwriting changes over time.
  • Verifiable – the documents on which the known signatures appear must preferably be official documents – not scraps of paper that anyone could have written on.
  • Original exemplars are preferable to photocopies, faxes or scans.
  • Sufficient quantity (a minimum of five and preferably more), so that the author’s handwriting habits can be assessed. One exemplar is not sufficient.

Step 3

If you are struggling to obtain exemplars that meet the above-mentioned criteria, please go to Sources. This offers tips on where and how to obtain signatures of a deceased person.

Step 4

The forensic document examination service consists of the following options:

  • Verbal opinion only.
  • Initial statement of findings. Most often a two-page report that may be accompanied by evidence sheet/s. An ‘expert opinion’ is not stated in this type of report as it is only the first step in the process.
  • Full-length forensic report that states an opinion and clearly outlines the logical / scientific reasoning behind it. This is recommended for a disciplinary hearing or court matter. This often consists of a 5-to-7 page report + evidence sheets + numerous attachments of the documents examined.
  • Full-length forensic report that meets High Court rules, stating an opinion and the logical / scientific reasoning behind it. Summary as per Rule 36 + report + evidence sheets / charts + numerous attachments of the documents examined.
  • Handwriting Expert Witness at court, disciplinary hearing or arbitration proceedings.

Rates

Fees are based on an hourly rate.

For larger projects, a retainer fee amounting to the first six hours’ work is payable upon handover of the documents to be examined.

The final amount will depend on the type of report required, the amount of evidence to be examined and whether site visits to inspect documents are required.

My current hourly rate and a full fee schedule is available upon request.