• In the case of Adams v Lindsell (1818) 1 B. & Ald. 681 it was held that where an offer was accepted by post, acceptance took effect at the date of posting.
  • The “postal rule” was developed.

Facts of the Case

  • D challenged a decision that they had breached a contract for the sale of wool to the claimants.
  • On September 1817, D had written to C offering to sell some wool and asking for an answer “in course of post”.
  • D’s letter however was wrongly addressed and a delay in correcting this issue meant the letter did not reach C until the evening of September 5th.
  • At that time, C wrote an answer, agreeing to accept the wool on the terms proposed.
  • The answer, sent in the ordinary course of post, was received by D on September 9th.
  • However, they had sold the wool to another person on September 8th.
  • The judge at first instance held that the delay had been caused by D, so they were liable for C’s losses
  • D appealed.

Issues in Adams v Lindsell (1818) 1 B. & Ald. 681

  • Where was the point of acceptance when using a letter as a form of written acceptance.

Held by Court of King’s Bench

  • Judgment held in favour of C and D had been in breach of contract.

Law J

  • D had to be considered in law as having made, during every instant of time their letter was travelling, the same identical offer to C.
  • The contract was completed by the acceptance of the offer by C.
  • The delay had arisen entirely from D’s mistake, and it had therefore to be held against him.