The Postal Acceptance Rule

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How Does the Postal Acceptance Rule Work?

With much of business and commercial operations being online in this day and age, it may seem strange to consider the effects of making contracts by post. However it is important to know the consequences of the Postal Acceptance Rule as it can have significant impacts on whether you must carry out a potential contract that you wish you could cancel.

What Is It?

The rule means that when a contract is accepted by post, sending the letter creates the contract. The post office receiving the letter forms the contract, rather than you receiving their acceptance. This is an exception to a major principle that covers other contracts that you engage in; that acceptance actually has to be communicated. Critically, this only applies to post, and not other forms of non face-to-face communication such as email or texts.

If you’re unsure of whether you made an offer and thus have an offer or merely an agreement, you can read about the difference between a contract and agreement here.

Why Does It Matter?

Chiefly, the rule means that a contract could bind you without your knowledge. As long as they have sent their acceptance before you cancel your offer, then a contract has formed. Moreover, there is not a similar rule if you wish to cancel the offer of a contract by post. A revocation, or cancellation of the contract must actually be told to the relevant person/party.

How to Exclude It

There are several ways to exclude the postal acceptance rule from impacting upon your contracts. A provision that requires acceptance to be communicated is the easiest way to do this. You will have the ability to revoke offers with no fear of being liable to someone whose mail hasn’t arrived yet.

Another way to exclude the postal acceptance rule is if mail is not a relevant way of acceptance. Of course, this leaves you subject to legal interpretation. So it is recommended that you exclude the rule through the use of a clause in the contract.


It is essential you consider the postal acceptance rule when you perform contracts by post. The postal acceptance rule can get you into trouble if you fail to account for this in your contracts.


So, after “Josephine” has completed even the first Notice of 3, the “contract” has changed. If Josephine opens their mail she has effectively re-contracted. If you stick to your guns and a decent set of Notices, the contract (and obligations) remain terminated.

“A provision that requires acceptance to be communicated is the easiest way to do this” which is provided in Josephine’s documents.

“is if mail is not a relevant way of acceptance” – also in the documents.

“through the use of a clause in the contract” – also in the documents.

Posted by PMA admin