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Kumaran develops novel lampshades. In January 2016, he developed a new lampshade.

On 1 May 2016, he emailed Bobby and Chew, both wholesalers, to whom he had previously sold lampshades. In his email, he asked each whether they would be interested in becoming the sole distributor of his new lampshade.

On 5 May 2016, Bobby and Chew both emailed Kumaran independently, each stating that he was interested in becoming sole distributor for the lampshade and requested further information.

On 7 May 2016, Kumaran emailed Bobby: “I offer you the post of sole distributor of the lampshade at a basic 10% commission. If I hear nothing from you by 14 May 2016, I will assume that this is acceptable to you.”

Bobby immediately posted a letter, by registered mail, to Kumaran’s home in which he accepted Kumaran’s offer. The letter did not arrive until 16 May 2016.

In the meantime, Chew, having heard nothing further from Kumaran, posted a letter to Kumaran in which he offered to become Kumaran’s sole distributor for a 20% commission. Kumaran received Chew’s letter on 15 May 2016. Kumaran immediately telephoned Bobby and told him that the post of sole distributor was no longer available to him.

Bobby insists that there is a binding contract to appoint him as sole distributor. Is Bobby correct?

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There is a relevant rule, the "posting rule", according to which an acceptance is effective once posted (this is a quirk of acceptances). This would be as soon after 7 May 2016 as Bobby sent his letter, presumably well before the deadline. So yes, a professional lawyer would be needed. If Bobby is in Australia, it might be more complicated; if Bobby is in Norway, it's simpler because they don't have the posting rule.

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