Like a candle in the dark…
Hi guys…tears, tears…this my last blog entry for this year and on contract law.
But I won’t leave without telling you a tale of hope and endurance.
After my heartbreaking comment last week on how I deem the postal rule obsolete in our modern e-commerce influenced times.
And in this dark hour, along comes a little journal (The Postal Acceptance Rule in the Digital Age, Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology, Vol.2,Issue 1) that should be a reason for celebration as there is one last domain where the postal rule could remain relevant for years to come, assuming that no significant changes in how we contract emerge in the near future, which, given the rapid technological changes in the digital industry, could become tricky.
Nonetheless, let’s analyse in what ways or on what level the postal rule might still apply in future times.
The article revolves around how the postal is applicable for e-mail communication as the traditional postal rule principle established in1818 by Adams v. Lindsell cannot be transferred identically onto contracts concluded through e-mail communication.
The main issue with e-mail communication is to determine whether or not it should be considered an instantaneous form of communication or not as this would solve this problem rather quickly.
But this is exactly the more delicate part of this analysis, given that e-mail is mixture between traditional mail and instant messaging.
One thing that can be considered without a doubt, that e-mail is not an instantaneous form of communication such as telex or telephone because it can happen that between the sending and receipt of an e-mail lie sometimes several minutes, depending on numerous factors for example internet server speed.
This brings me to the conclusion, that e-mail contracting is closer to traditional mail because the only aspect that is completely controllable is the time of the sending of an e-mail, which means that an offeree who sends his acceptance to the right e-mail address of the offeror should be treated the same way as a person who would’ve sent his acceptance by post. Therefore this “may be the last bastion for the application” of the postal rule, even though most modern online contracts exclude its application beforehand.
So guys this is it…but look out for occasional new entries, for example a PowerPoint presentation on debt or my thesis on the evolution of electronic contract.