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Handwriting Analysis for the Legal Sector

graphology for legal situationsAt Graphocentric an extensive amount of our time is spent helping the legal sector and individuals through our handwriting analysis expertise.

Clients come to us from throughout the UK because distance is no barrier to gaining the best handwriting analysis expertise.

With over 25 years of experience, our clients have the confidence that we can assist with the validity of handwriting on questioned documents, including signature analysis.  We also have much expertise in analysing handwriting from children involved in legal cases.

Graphology has now been accepted by the judiciary generally as a method of authenticating signatures on documents, and the author of various legal letters and documents.   However it is most important that the person charged with this task is properly qualified by the British Institute of Graphologists or other Professional Graphological Organisation.   The Graphologist must be fully prepared to appear in a Court of Law as an Expert Witness when so required.

It must be made clear to the Client commissioning such work to be carried out that there are numerous people, who are not qualified, advertising their ability to undertake the examination of documents.     These individuals may have picked up the ‘skill’ on an ad hoc basis  by, perhaps, having contact with police departments, lawyers, insurance companies etc., and believe that they have seen so many questioned signatures and documents during the course of their job that they can quite clearly discern whether or not the handwriting is authentic.   These are dangerous and delusional assumptions to make.   The ‘Graphologist’ or ‘Document Examiner’ who promises to undertake a complete examination, authentication and prepare an Opinion and Justification for less than £500 should be viewed with caution at the very least.

The general public are not aware of the detail and amount of time it takes to examine a document and to prepare an Opinion and Justification in a manner that is acceptable to a Court of Law.   The very minimum amount of time this should take is five to seven hours – but even in cases where it appears obvious that the signatures differ considerably – it is rarely that straightforward.

The Graphologist who undertakes this work should also be a confident speaker – well used to speaking in public and answering difficult and perverse questions.

An example of a legal graphology challenge

Many of the enquiries we gain focus on the validation of a signature on a Will.

It’s unfortunate that within many families there can be friction over the years and when the last remaining parent dies, the friction raises its head in the form of a disputed signature on a Will.

What typically happens is that the Will appears to favour one or more beneficiaries, leaving one or more others in the family who feel that the relative wouldn’t have left matters in that way.  Consequently, there can often be doubt about the validity of the signature on the Will (implying that it wasn’t that of the deceased relative).

How the examination is approached

First of all the Graphologist must remain impartial and cannot sympathise with the client but will listen carefully and store any facts or knowledge imparted at the back of the mind.

The only course of action is to:

  • Examine in minute detail every detail of the ‘disputed’ signature. Its shape, size, pressure and form – and then each individual letter and connecting stroke and any other mark upon the paper, such as full stops and underlining – all the time making comprehensive notes.
  • Then examine the ‘known’ signatures of anyone who may have forged the signature (for example, a significant beneficiary) equally exactly.
  • Ascertain whether the deceased or possible signature forger was taking anything other than a proprietary medicine (off the shelf, not prescribed).    Also, if they had any physical disabilities such as poor eyesight or damaged arms, hands or shoulders, or any neurological problems.   If so bear these must be considered, especially if they are recent in onset.   Such further observations are included in the comprehensive notes.
  • Then commence the comparative and detailed examination of the signatures.
  • Following the examination of the signatures the graphologist will carefully write an exact and concise Opinion as to the Conclusions.  This would also indicate your Table of probabilities.   Finally, there is the preparation,  in careful detail, of an uncomplicated and direct Justification of the Conclusion.   Each page should be signed and dated by the Graphologist.

Sample Table of Probabilities

i)          in all probability

ii)         it is probable

iii)       there is a possibility

iv)        inconclusive

v)         no resemblance

It is not unusual for pressure to be brought to bear upon the Graphologist to write an Opinion that does not conflict with the Client’s wishes.   The Graphologist should NEVER accede to these demands.   The job of a Graphologist is to provide an accurate and truthful Opinion which clearly demonstrates their professionalism.