The postal rule and the rule of privity, although very different in nature share a commonality in that their application can cause disadvantages and hardship. However, such problems can be easily avoided. Critically discuss. Acceptance of an offer to form a contract may be transmitted by post, either when this is the prescribed mode of communication or when it is reasonable based on the circumstances, to communicate acceptance by post. According to the ‘postal rule’, acceptance by post becomes effective as soon as the letter of acceptance is inserted into the post-box or when it is put in the control of the post office, for instance by handing in the letter at a post office counter. There have been various cases in which the rule has resulted in unfair disadvantages to a party to a contract. A general rule of contract law known as privity postulates that only parties to a contract can sue or be sued upon that contract. In other words, rights and duties that arise from a contract only bind the parties to that contract. As a consequence, a contract cannot impose obligations or confer rights on anyone who is not a party to that contract. Contention arises from this rule when considering whether a third party for which a contract has been concluded has the right to sue. It is evident that problems posed by the rule of privity as well the postal rule can easily be overcome by appropriate drafting of contracts. In Adams v Lindsell (1818) the defendants sent an offer, by post, concerning the sale of certain goods to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs received the letter on 5 September and posted their acceptance on the same day. The acceptance letter reached the defendants on 9 September. However, the defendants had already sold the goods to someone else on 8 September. The question faced by the court was whether the acceptance becomes effective when it was received, or at an earlier point in time. The court held that acceptance becomes effective at the moment a letter of acceptance is posted. This conceptualized what became known as the postal rule. Similarly, in Household Fire and Carriage Accident Insurance Co Ltd v Grant (1879) Mr Grant had applied for shares in the plaintiffs. His offer to buy shares was accepted by post. However, the acceptance letter was lost in the post and Mr Grant never received it. By the time Mr Grant was asked to pay for the shares, the plaintiff had gone bankrupt and Mr Grant refused to pay, claiming that there had never been a contract. The court disagreed, holding that the acceptance became valid the moment the plaintiff inserted the letter of acceptance into the post-box. Generally, the postal rule is thought to promote certainty and expediency in commercial transactions. However, as seen in the aforementioned cases, it can sometimes lead to verdicts which are clearly unfair when taking into consideration all the facts of the case. In fact, one of the judges in Household Fire and Carriage Accident Insurance Co Ltd v Grant dissented, stating that the postal rule should be dispensed with. To this effect, the postal rule is unreasonable as it holds a person accountable for a sequence of events completely beyond their control. The post office is undeniably a main external influencing factor in such a transaction via post. The party to a contract relinquishes control of a letter of acceptance when they post it or hand it in at the post office. For example, in Household Fire and Carriage Accident Insurance Co v Grant, the letter conveying acceptance of Mr Grant’s offer was lost in the post. This was beyond Mr Grant’s control however he still had to face the repercussions of the post office’s negligent actions in losing the letter. Likewise in Adam v Lindsell, the letter conveying acceptance of the defendant’s offer did not reach for some days within which they went ahead and sold the goods to someone else. The defendant would have been oblivious to the fact that the plaintiff had accepted his offer therefore. These unfair disadvantages can be avoided in the first place by opting out of the postal rule. As established in Holwell Securities v Hughes (1974), the offeror can stipulate an alternate mode of acceptance or they can stipulate that the acceptance must reach the offeror to be considered effective. This highlights that problems posed by the postal rule can be easily overcome by smart drafting of contracts. Parties to a contract should be more cognisant of the issues that can potentially arise based on their chosen mode of acceptance and should take such factors into consideration when drafting their contracts. Within the rule of privity, it is widely accepted that a contract cannot impose obligations on a third party. Further, it has been established that a third party does not have a right to sue upon a contract. This is particularly contentious where that contract had been concluded for the benefit of the third party. The operation of a strict view of privity, where rights and obligations may only be conferred to parties to a contract can be traced back to the case of Winterbottom v Wright (1842). This case signalled that neither rights nor obligations could be passed to third parties. In that case, a third party was prevented from suing on a contract which he was not part of, although he may be said to have derived a benefit from it. Specifically, a driver of a carriage was injured as a result of shoddy maintenance of the carriage. However, as it was the driver’s employer rather than the driver himself who had a contract with the maintenance worker, the injured driver was unable to sue upon the contract. Subsequent to Winterbottom v Wright, the fact that privity prevented third parties both from being sued as well as from suing upon a contract was firmly established in Tweddle v Atkinson (1861), a decision from the High Court. It was further fully endorsed by the House of Lords in Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co Ltd v Selfridge & Co Ltd . In the Grenada case of Issa Nicholas (Grenada Ltd) v Electrotec Services Ltd GD (1996) the Court of Appeal examined whether a subcontractor who had an agreement with the main contractor could sue a third party (the building owner) for monies owed by the main contractor. It was held that there was no privity of contract between the sub-contractor and the building owner. In spite of these decisions, doubts about the usefulness of the doctrine have persisted ever since it was first established. As far back as 1937, the Law Revision Committee in the United Kingdom proposed to reform the doctrine to allow third party beneficiaries to sue upon a contract. These efforts did not come to fruition, but many judges continued to cast doubt on the doctrine, including Lord Denning in Beswick v Beswick  and also in Jackson v Horizon Holidays Ltd ; and Lord Scarman in Woodar Investment Development Ltd v Wimpey Construction (UK) Ltd . In Australia, the judiciary went one step further when, in Trident General Insurance Co Ltd v McNiece Bros Pty Ltd (1988), it effectively abandoned the doctrine of privity where third party beneficiaries are concerned. Peter Beswick was a merchant who ran a coal business. He had had his leg amputated and therefore wanted to transfer his business to his nephew, John Beswick. John worked for Peter in running the business. Peter and John agreed that John would be given the business, and that, in return, John would employ Peter for the rest of his life, as well as pay Peter’s widow a weekly annuity if Peter passed away. After Peter’s death, the nephew refused to make any payments to Peter’s widow, arguing that she was not a party to the agreement. On this point, the House of Lords agreed with John Beswick, dismissing Lord Denning’s opinion, given in the Court of Appeal, that third party beneficiaries should be able to enforce what they had been promised under a contract. In reflecting on the situation found in Beswick v Beswick, it would have been a simple task for Peter Beswick to first transfer a share of his company to his wife, and then make the agreement with John Beswick. That way the problems posed by privity could have been avoided altogether. This emphasizes that in practice, it is often fairly easy for parties to avoid the impact of the doctrine of privity by drafting their contracts appropriately. To some extent, the debate concerning the problems that arise in relation to the doctrine of privity can be compared with the debate concerning the postal rule. It should be noted that those who oppose the doctrine of privity can avoid its effect by drafting their contracts in such a way so as to avoid it. In analogy, if parties do not agree with the postal rule, they can avoid it by stipulating the mode of acceptance when drafting their contract. By so doing, they can overcome the issues which can arise due to the postal rule.