The "mailbox rule" is also known as the "mailbox posting rule" or "posting rule." When a letter (or contract or notice, etc.) is mailed, the rule determines when the letter is deemed "delivered" regardless of when it actually arrives at the other end.
Common Law. The mailbox rule came into use in the 1800s starting with contract law for determining when an offer is deemed accepted. Under the rule, an offer is considered accepted at the time the acceptance is dropped into a mailbox or handed to a postman.
[When a letter] properly directed is proved to have been either put into the post-office or delivered to the postman, it is presumed... that it reached its destination at the regular time, and was received by the person to whom it was addressed. (Rosenthal v. Walker, 111 U.S. 185, 193 (1884).)
Proof of mailing creates presumption that the intended party received the letter. If the party denies receipt, it creates an issue of fact for a court to resolve. If the sender knows the letter was not received (because it was returned to the sender) the presumption no longer applies.
Davis-Stirling Act. The mailbox rule has been adopted by the Davis-Stirling Act to establish when a notice from the association is deemed delivered to members. A notice or document is deemed delivered upon deposit into the United States mail. (Civ. Code § 4050(b).)
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