When there are 2 signatures on a letter the higher ranking person goes on which side, the right side or the left side?
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I do not know whether there is any general rule on this issue but I would place it on the left side, so that it will be the first signature to be read by a reader (in case of reading from left side to right side, as in most of languages)

You probably realize that letters with two signatures are relatively uncommon.

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You probably realize that letters with two signatures are relatively uncommon.


Sorry Clive, but not in my jurisdction! There are for example business companies which shall be respresented by two persons acting jointly (chairman of the board of directors and member of the board).
Both these persons have to sign important letters on behalf of the company.
The same procedure is prescribed for acting of certain state authorities - I believe it is called "countersigning", isn't it?

Yes. I just meant to suggest that such letters are relatively uncommon compared to the total number of business letters written. Emotion: smile

Yes, I believe you are right, Clive Emotion: smile
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The principle of two signatures on a business letter is known as 'the four-eye principle'. It's popular in Germany, where it's intended to reduce fraud and to ensure that no single person commits the company in writing to something without the knowledge and consent of another (usually a more senior person and often from a different department).

The practice is that one person signs at the bottom of the letter on the left, and the other on the right. If both signatories are of equal rank, it matters not who signs on which side. But if one signatory is of a higher rank, he or she signs on the right - effectively as a counter-signatory.

Well, I think the order of signatures in case of countersigning depends much on the function of such countersigning and generally the philosophy of such procedure in each jurisdiction.
I am rather experienced in this issue with respect to my country and the general usage (though not expressly regulated by the law) is that the person of a higher rank signs the letter as the first and another person counter-signs the letter.
This is because we do not treat the counter-signing person as the one who makes the final decision about the issue but rather as an "assistant" in this procedure. Therefore, the person of a higher rank is the "decision-maker" with respect to the letter and signs it as the first (on the left side). The person of a lower rank (usually a member of a collective body where the person of a higher rank is chairman or president) is required to countersign the letter to evidence that the letter is not a sole business of the chairman but that also other members of the collective body agree with this decision. This is to demonstrate the collective decision-making procedure.
However, the person of lower ran (though signing the letter as the last) has no power of its own to construe such a letter and therefore his signature does not represent his power to decide about this matter, but rather to assist in it.
I hope it is understandable - I think you should search for the business usages in your jurisdiction (or an express legal regulation, if there is any), as it seems that various jurisdictions differ in opinion about this. Good luck Emotion: smile
LawyeeI hope it is understandable

Not really.
LawyeeI think you should search for the business usages in your jurisdiction
My knowledge of the procedures I described was acquired from first-hand personal experience gained over a ten-year period whilst working for a German-owned multi-national company who employed the dual-signatory method of document approval. During that time I was a signatory on thousands of letters, both left and right side, so I am well aware of the protocols involved. You evidently seem to think you know more than them about this, so perhaps you'd care to write to them and inform them that they've got it all wrong!

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