To Establishing the Authenticity of Disputed Signatures:

  1. In order to ascertain whether or not disputed signatures are authentic, an adequate number of acknowledged signatures would be necessary for use as standards for comparison purposes.
  2. The quantity of standards required would depend on the overall consistency of the writer’s normal signature; natural variation is bound to occur in everybody’s signature. A larger number of standards would be necessary if the writer has a tendency to vary his/her signature considerably.
  3. The best standards would be the signatures written spontaneously on documents contemporaneous with the disputed signatures, and preferably those appearing on documents similar to the questioned documents.
  4. Request specimens, where the writer is asked to produce exemplar signatures, are of less value for comparison purposes than are collected specimens as described above. However, if the specimens submitted differ significantly from the collected specimens, this would suggest that the writer is being deceptive.
  5. Generally the examiner should not be deceived by self-serving standards.The standard of writing capability demonstrated in the known and disputed writings would be compared. It is axiomatic that a person cannot write beyond his/her ability or skills.
  6. The line quality, including the evenness of the line as well as the pressure pattern, would be compared. Hesitation, tremor, and inappropriate pen lifts occurring within the line would be sought.
  7. Consistency in the overall spontaneity demonstrated by the speed and fluency of the line would be investigated; for example the occurrence of tapering flying starts and finishes of lead and end strokes.
  8. The slope, the alignment of the signature’s components with the given base line, the positioning of pen-lifts and line re-starts, the line direction and the sequence of strokes, the spacing between letters and strokes, the positioning of the “i” dots and the “t” bars, the proportional height of the short and tall letters, the positioning of the apices of the tall letters, the writing pattern at the top and at the bottom of the signature, would be  compared.
  9. Generally, common individual characteristics occurring among the letter formations would be sought.
  10. Persistent dissimilarities that could not be argued away as natural  variations would be sought.
  11. Latent guide lines and grooves within the line, coupled by the lack of spontaneity of the line, would be investigated regarding the possibility that.


High Court cases on Evidence of Handwriting experts.   


Case No.33212/2003 North Gauteng High Court: Judge J Mothle:

  • Judgement: 31.08.2012. In the matter Daniel J Hanley (Plaintiff) vs ABSA Ltd (Defendant). Experts H Du Toit (for the Defendant) & C Greenfield (for Plaintiff).
  • Judgement given in favour of the Plaintiff. J.O.L. Ref.29346 (GNP) (2012).

Case No 2009/262 South Gauteng High Court. Judge J Moshidi:

  • Judgement: 24.07.2012.In the matter Botha (Plaintiff) vs Investec Bank  Limited (Defendant). Experts J Bester, G Cloete and C Greenfield (for the Defendant) and J Hattingh (for the Plaintiff).
  • Judgement given in favour of the Defendant. J.O.L. Ref.29186 (GSJ) (2012)

Case No 2491/06; 237/06 Kwa Zulu Natal High Court Judge C Nicholson:

  • Judgement: 19.01.2012. In the matter Oosman & another (Plaintiffs) vs Khan & Others (Defendants). Experts Hendrik Du Toit (for the Plaintiffs) and Mike Irving and Cecil Greenfield (for the Defendant).
  • Judgement in favour of the Defendant. J.O.L. Ref.28589 (KZP)(2012).



“We know from rather frequent occurrences in the courts that there are cases of disputed handwriting where people were unable to declare on oath that a signature was or was not their own.

To prove what a unique phenomenon our individual handwriting is, some authority has demonstrated that there are at least 177 ways of writing the  figure1, and that if one considers that there are 26 capital and 26 small letters and 10 figures, which makes 62 symbols altogether, and leaves out of account the complicated shape of many of these characters, accepting only the number of variations which occur in the figure 1 as the average of the variations which occur in all these 62 symbols, one comes to the conclusion that the possibility of variation in each handwriting is expressed in a figure of such astronomical dimensions that it exceeds the number of the population which could possibly #every have lived on our planet. And this statement has been taken as a means to show that it is impossible that two persons should ever write the same hand. The reader will understand that this argument is misleading, and in fact proves something quite different: namely, the fact that absolute identities of all features were it only in a single word has been, not written twice, but actually traced. The astronomical figure which has been stressed, with great though misplaced eloquence, rather illustrates the fact that nobody is capable of unalterably and consistently repeating precisely the same features of his own handwriting”

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