Clifford Gouldson Lawyers

The unexpected consequences of changes to Australia Post delivery periods

Print Version

21/04/2016

Sometimes the simplest things can have unexpected legal consequences.  Take the recent decision by Australia Post to change their delivery timeframes.

From 4 January 2016, there has been a choice of three different delivery speeds when sending a letter:

  • Express Post: next business day (depending on the delivery destination);
  • Priority Post: one to four business days (depending on the delivery destination); or
  • Regular Post: up to two business days longer than priority post (i.e. up to six business days).
What many might not realise is that these changes may impact your legal position - as outlined below:

Notice provisions in contracts
 
The change in delivery times could affect your existing contracts’ notice provisions. Parties to existing contracts should consider amending clauses that require written notice to be given within a certain period so that those clauses align with Australia Post’s new timeframes. Alternatively, parties ought to keep the new delivery times in mind when issuing notices under existing contracts.
 
Legislation dealing with ordinary course of post
 
Some legislation and company constitutions deem notices sent by post as being served on the date when the notice would have been delivered in the “ordinary course of the post.” The new delivery times should be considered when calculating when such notices were served.
 
Real estate contracts
 
Bearing in mind the prevalence of email and fax, the change to Australia Post delivery times may still have an impact on contracts for the sale of real estate.  These types of contracts often provide for the sending of notices by post.

Most of the time, such contracts have standard terms as to what constitutes delivery of such notices, and notices are often taken to be delivered either “in the ordinary course of the post” or “the next business day following posting”.

When issuing a notice under these types of contracts, careful consideration is required, especially when issuing notices to terminate during the cooling off period, or notices of default.
 
General impacts
 
The change in Australia Post delivery times should also be taken into account when posting anything urgent, like payment of an invoice just prior to the due date.
 
If you have any questions about the impact of Australia Post’s longer delivery periods on your business, please don’t hesitate to call Clifford Gouldson Lawyers’ Construction or Litigation & Dispute Resolution teams.

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