I recently was unable to receive post in the UK (due to a broken post box in a post room) and as a result did not read legal document I should have received.

While I understand the legal requirement for a valid address in cases such as your driving license, is there a legal requirement to be in receipt of physical post at the address? Does supplying your address also commit you to having received and opened post at that address.

Can you deny physical post? Opt out all together from being able to receive post at a residential address?

As an aside to the implications of any answers to the above ... if there is a convention of organisations making "reasonable steps" to get in touch with you, how can post be deemed reasonable if they don't get a reply and have no idea if such post was received? Isn't the onus then on me to take "reasonable steps" to receive post? Why should I? What if I can't?

  • Usually, in circumstances where a legal notice is given by mail the duty of the person giving notice is to mail it to the "last known address" or to an address believed in good faith to be valid, and proof of receipt is not required. Often, failure to receive actual notice is a ground to set aside an action taken for which you were given notice if objection to the action taken is sufficiently timely and no third party is prejudiced. Also I don't know U.K. practice, but U.S. mail can be sent someone with no address by mailing it to "general delivery" at a particular post office near the person.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 26, 2017 at 20:12
  • The post office didn't hold your mail until the delivery box was repaired?
    – Andy
    Jan 30, 2017 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


I did the Googling:

Prior to the case described in this article, a notice was to be deemed served if the sender can sufficiently prove that the letter was properly addressed, pre-paid and posted. Law - Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978

The case made it clear that the same law also sets a condition, where if the letter was not received at said mailbox, or too late received, the notice is to be deemed not served. The receiver is not required to prove that the letter has not arrived in the mailbox.

Also, if your mail has been tampered with, you should contact Royal Mail - they will perform an investigation and put your mailbox in order.

I work with tenants and landlords, thus lots of official notices. In this practice, it's often a recommended action to follow up on a notice and make sure the receiver has indeed received and acknowledged the notice. I don't know if it's a legal requirement, but often in disputes (which go to arbitration by a 3rd party), if one party states they did not receive the notice and the other party can't sufficiently prove that they did everything in their power to contact and confirm the delivery of the notice, the notice is regarded as not served.

I believe you cannot deny post. If it's in your mailbox, it's your responsibility to check and read it.

  • Interesting. In my case I was unable to physically access the mail for various reasons. How arcane that in the modern age so much relies on a system with no guarantee of receipt
    – Aiden Bell
    Jan 27, 2017 at 9:07
  • Well, honestly, a lot of people now use email instead of, or as a supplement to standard mail. EDIT: If you can prove that you were prevented access to the mailbox, I think this will help rule the notice not served.
    – AudreyW
    Jan 27, 2017 at 10:20
  • It is especially hard if you are nomadic. I think email should count as a valid means of notice personally and there be a mechanism to advertise your address (email or postal) for official notice
    – Aiden Bell
    Jan 27, 2017 at 11:19

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