If you’ve never visited the Failblog, I would highly suggest having a look around for some comic relief. I came across this gem and it gave me that inner laughter and brain stimulation that keeps a good “funny” in your head for days.
What a ridiculous stamp for an envelope to have! The craziest thing may be that someone created this stamp in a shop and sold it. Now, I could wax philosophical for a while about alternate perceptions of reality: can you ever truly know if you did not receive something? Or, how do you notify someone of an event that never took place? But let’s take a look at the legal ramifications this stamp could have since, well, that’s the theme of this blog.
There’s a certain legal theory known as the Mailbox Rule. In general, the Mailbox Rule allows for the formation of a valid contract at a certain moment in time when one party does not actually know the contract has been formed. A practical example is a contract, say, to buy 1,500 lbs. of watermelons from a local supplier. You picked up an order form at his grove-stand last week and filled it out at home to buy 1,500 lbs. of watermelons for a certain price. You sign it, and drop it into the mailbox that gets picked up at 7:00 AM the next morning. Well, you are in contract right now – the very moment you dropped the letter into the box. The supplier does not know you signed it yet, but the Mailbox Rule deems the agreement valid from the moment you circulated the agreement into the mail.
The Mailbox Rule is a little dated by modern standards. In the 1980’s we were getting used to faxing documents, which now is becoming a dated way to communciate. Now, I can scan the contract and email it to the watermelon supplier and he will have actual knowledge of the agreement within minutes – not days.
So, what’s with this letter? Is the sender trying to add some teeth to the Mailbox Rule in an, arguably, idiotic way? “Yes, your honor, not only did I mail the contract to Jeff, but it said right on the envelope to call me if he did not receive it. He never called me so….”
Can you think of a legitimate use for this stamp? I would love to hear one. But if you don’t think of one, please notify me immediately.