The Commerce Select Committee recently heard further submissions on the Electronic Transactions (Contract Formation) Amendment Bill. The Bill clarifies that "[a]n offer that can be accepted by electronic communication is deemed to be accepted at the time of receipt of the acceptance by the offeror" (ie the postal acceptance rule – which says acceptance is effective when posted - does not apply).

The Bill does not specify what constitutes "receipt" for these purposes, but the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 already provides that an electronic communication is taken to be received either:

  • Where an addressee has designated an information system (e.g. an email address) for the purpose of receiving electronic communications, at the time the electronic communication enters that information system
  • In any other case at the time the communication comes to the attention of the addressee.

If you get a bounce back or your email crashes, then clearly you should send a follow up email to ensure your acceptance has been communicated. But if neither of these things happen, how do you know for sure that your acceptance is now effective? If you're in doubt about receipt, you should follow up with the intended recipient to make sure acceptance has been received.

The Committee's report on the Bill is due on 15 November 2013.