Is a new postal rule coming?

2 October 2018
Scott Couper, Partner, Brisbane

On 12 September 2018, the Commonwealth Senate passed the Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Cth).

This Bill proposes to amend section 160 of the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth).  This section contains the general rule by which a postal article sent by prepaid post is presumed to be received by the recipient on a specified date (commonly referred to as the postal rule).[1]

Presently, the postal rule provides that a postal article will be presumed to be received by the recipient on the fourth working day after having been posted.

The amendment will extend this timeframe, such that a postal article will be presumed to be received by the recipient on the seventh working day after having been posted. The explanatory memorandum suggests that the proposed amendment would reflect Australia Post’s current operational delivery times.

The Bill was introduced and read for the first time in the Commonwealth House of Representatives on 17 September 2018.

Key takeaway

If the Bill is passed and received royal assent, parties who rely on the postal rule presumption should review their procedures in order to ensure that those procedures take into account the amended timeframes.

Parties in jurisdictions which have enacted uniform evidence law (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australia Capital Territory) will need to keep any eye on whether the parliaments of those jurisdictions will make corresponding amendments to their respective legislation.

[1] This is the general rule. Legislation may specify rules for notices sent in respect of that legislation or specify rules for entities governed by that legislation. For example, see section 347 of the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld).

Authored by: 
Scott Couper, Partner
Tahlia O’Connor, Associate

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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