December 30, 2010

Internet killed the postal rule star…

I’m back…ok…sorry it has been indeed a very, very long week since I’ve last been in contact with. Therefore I’m not going to hold a speech and get straight to the issue I started addressing last time, the slow decay of the postal rule in the modern trade environment within the EU.

Why do I concentrate on this particular point while I could speak about so many other interesting topics concerning contract law in the major EU member states.

Because the contractual landscape within the EU is changing rapidly, England included which means that certain specific forms of contractual rules, such as the postal rule, will, in my humble opinion will in the long run become obsolete and eventually vanish entirely.

What brings me to this preposterous hypothesis you might ask legitimately, well e-commerce and electronic contacting, it’s as simple as that.

Given the fact that e-commerce has been constantly gaining ground over retail commerce or more traditional forms of distance selling for example television shopping or catalogue orders, where the potential buyer replied to an offer by either mailing his order by normal post or by phoning in and placing an order.

This meant that either the postal rule applied or was not applicable as phone acceptances were given directly and thus were immediate without delay.

The latter already contributed a bit to the falling importance of the postal rule.

The appearance of e-commerce then marginalized the postal rule to a degree never seen before.

Already almost completely banned from modern trade and business contracts due to its inconvenient nature, it became practically non-existent in electronic contracting.

If nowadays you are visiting online retailers or auctioneers, you will be asked to accept an offer straight away, this means that there is no physical delay between offer and acceptance.

After this depressing story for postal rule enthusiasts, next week I present the probably last stronghold for the postal rule in our modern digitalized world, so stay tuned.


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