What is a Date Certain?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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A date certain is a term that is used to identify the date when actions that relate to a contract are scheduled for completion. This date is important, since it is included in the text of the contract, and is considered binding on all parties participating in the agreement. Failure to observe the date certain by one party can cause the other parties to determine that a breach of contract has taken place, and possibly take legal action to recover any losses that occur as a result of that breach.

One of the most common examples of a date certain is the expiration date identified in the terms and conditions of a legal agreement. This date serves as the point in time when the provisions of the contract are no longer considered binding, and both parties are free to either renew the relationship with a new contractual term, or seek business relationships with new partners. For example, if a customer chooses to not renew a service contract with a provider by the date certain, then the contract is considered settled and the provider is no longer legally bound to sell goods and services to the customer at the pricing contained in that agreement.


The concept of a date certain is also found with various types of investments, such as exercising options or derivatives. As with most applications, the date involved must be set at a time in the future that is considered reasonable and agreeable to all parties concerned. While it is often possible to exercise the options prior to the date certain, there are usually provisions that make it possible to fulfill all the terms of the contract in advance of that date. For this reason, there is often a difference between the date certain and the actual settlement date.

In the event that the covenants contained in the contract are not fulfilled by the date certain, there are several courses of action that may be taken. If all parties are agreeable, the contract can be amended to include a new date certain, effectively rescheduling the amount of time allowed for all parties to honor those covenants. Should the relationship between the parties involved in the agreement be less than amicable, there is also the possibility that the offended party will take legal action against the party or party that failed to comply with the provisions of the contract in a timely manner, and seek retribution through the courts.


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