Mailbox Rule for Contracts - Explained
An Offer is Accepted with the Acceptance is Sent
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What is the Mailbox Rule?
The mailbox rule is a default rule that applies when the offeror does not place specific requirements on the manner of acceptance. Under this rule, the offeree accepts the offer when it is sent to the offeror. This could include dropping it in the mail or sending it with a courier. This may also include providing notice of acceptance via email or other electronic communication (regardless of whether the offeror actually checks or reads the email). As such, if an offer is made to multiple offerees, the first offeree to accept in any manner (including by dropping the acceptance in the mail) has a binding contract.
- Example: You offer to sell me your car for $500. I immediately send you a letter accepting your offer and a $500 check. We have a contract as soon as I drop the letter in the mail.
Next Article: What is Consideration - Contracts? Back to: CONTRACT LAW
What do you think about the mailbox rule? Should it be the default rule in contracts? Why or why not? Practice Question: Pamela is a musician and writer. She offers to sell her copyright to a popular song to Devon and Mark. Devon drops his acceptance of the offer in the mail on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, Pamela meets with Mark and signs an agreement transferring the copyright to him. What is the likely result in this situation?
- The offer is accepted once the acceptance is communicated. In this situation, the moment when the letter is mailed by the offeree. The general rule provides that acceptance is communicated up on dispatch of the letter and becomes effective once the offeror receives the letter. However, the letter communicating the acceptance must be dispatched timely and in a proper manner so as to avoid any inconveniences. If the acceptance letter is dispatched within the correct time, a valid contract is established. This means that the time the offeror receives the letter is not a determining factor.
- What is a Contract?
- Contract Theory Definition
- Meeting of the Minds
- Doctrine of Utmost Good Faith
- Aleatory Contract Definition
- What are the sources of contract law?
- Restatement of Contracts
- Uniform Commercial Code
- Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
- What is a Unilateral Contract vs a Bilateral Contract?
- What is an Express Contract vs an Implied Contract?
- What are the requirements to form a Contract (Offer, Acceptance, Consideration)?
- What is an Enforceable Contract vs. a Valid Contract?
- What is a Void Contract vs a Voidable Contract?
- Adhesion Contract
- What is Mental Capacity to contract?
- What is the requirement of a Lawful Purpose?
- What are common types of Voidable Contract?
- When does an offer to contact terminate?
- Counterparty Definition
- Mirror Image Rule?
- Rule for Sale of Goods
- Silence is Not Acceptance?
- Mailbox Rule
- Shrink-wrap Agreement Definition
- Click-Wrap Agreement Definition
- What is Consideration?
- What is Promissory Estoppel?
- When is a contract required to be in writing Statute of Frauds?
- What type of writing satisfies the statute of frauds?
- Exceptions to the Statute of Fraud
- Documents Under Seal
- Who Can Sign Contracts on Behalf of a Company?
- E-Sign Act
- Privity of Contract
- Who are third-party beneficiaries to a contract?
- What is assignment and delegation of a contract?
- When is a party's Duty of performance?
- Aleatory Contract
- What is an Executed contract vs an Executory contract?
- Inchoate Definition
- Evergreen Contract
- What is Performance, Substantial Performance, and Breach of a contract?
- What is performance of a Divisible Contract?
- When is a party's duty of performance discharged?
- What are conditions to Contract (Precedent & Subsequent)?
- Abandonment Option (Contract) Definition
- Cooling Off Rule Definition
- What is tender performance of a contract?
- What are Impossibility and Impracticability
- What is a Frustration of Purpose?
- Waiver or Release from Contract
- Accord and Satisfaction
- Force Majeure Clause
- What is a Breach of Contract?
- Repudiation (Contract) Definition
- Anticipatory Repudiation
- Acceleration Clause (Contracts) Definition
- What methods exist for resolving a breach?
- What remedies exist for a breach of contract?
- Rescission (Contract)
- Exculpatory Clause
- Hold Harmless Clause
- What is Efficient Breach?
- Organization of a Contract
- How to Read the Contract
- Contract Representations & Warranties
- Contract Covenants
- What rules does a court follow in interpreting a contract?
- Allonge Definition
- What is the Parol Evidence Rule?
- What is a complete integration vs a partial integration?
- Exceptions to the Parol Evidence Rule
- Patent and Latent Ambiguity in a Contract
- Service Level Agreement Definition
- Offtake Agreement