What’s Communication & modes of Communication underneath the Indian Contract Act?

In accordance with Part 2(h) of the Indian Contract Act 1872, An settlement enforceable by regulation is a contract. Earlier than a contract comes into existence the promisor has to suggest his willingness and a promise has to suggest his assent. It, subsequently, turns into mandatory to clarify what is supposed by such signification and what needs to be the mode of the identical.

To carry into discover the willingness or assent of the events to enter right into a contract one wants to speak. This mode of communication could be postal or instantaneous. Part 3 of the Indian Contract Act states that communication could be made by an act or omission, the primary mode any act means any conduct and phrases, written or oral. Written phrases embody letters, telegrams, messages, ads whereas oral phrases embody phone messages.

A proposal is just not legitimate till communicated, a suggestion could be communicated by phrase or by the gesture, right here by phrase we imply oral or written type of gesture means motion of part of the physique it’s a type of non-verbal communication an instance could be nodding of the pinnacle. In Powell v. Lee[3] the managers of a faculty determined to nominate an individual because the headmaster, there was no official communication of this. A grasp from the identical college communicated this determination of the appointment to the particular person, afterward, the college managers determined to reverse this determination. It was held that there was no contract as there was no communication by the facet of the authority and the communication occurred by the grasp in his private capability. The candidate coming to know not directly of the choice was immaterial.

Communication of provide is essential

Because the communication of provide is vital so is the communication of acceptance. When the communication of acceptance is made then solely the contract comes into existence, In Lalman Shukla v. Gauri Dutt [4] the defendant despatched his servant looking for his nephew who went lacking after the servant left he introduced a reward for the one that would discover his nephew the servant did and claimed the reward. It was held that there was no contract as there was no communication of acceptance. However by this, we can not say that the formation of contact takes place solely when communication takes place in phrases however additionally it is accepted by the conduct of the get together. In Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.,[5] A basic provide was made by the smoke ball firm that if anybody makes use of their product within the prescribed method and will get contaminated with influenza then they may pay 1000 kilos to such an individual. Right here the plaintiff used the product within the prescribed method it was held that because it was a basic provide made by the corporate by shopping for the product and utilizing it within the prescribed method the plaintiff communicated acceptance by this conduct and therefore needs to be compensated.

We have to perceive how vital communication of acceptance turns into within the formation of a contract. Yet one more vital component is the time interval during which communication of acceptance is made, the communication should happen within the prescribed time interval if the communication takes place after the lapse of the prescribed time then it doesn’t stand as a legitimate acceptance.

For eg – If Mr. X in his provide letter has been written that he’s anticipating a reply on or earlier than sixth december it means the particular person must reply earlier than the given time, If he replies after that it’s going to not be held as a legitimate acceptance. The communication of acceptance should be to the offeror and to not any third particular person as it’ll make no contract.

Communication of proposals Communication of acceptance is full
With regards to the data of the particular person to whom it’s made In opposition to the proposer-When put in the midst of transmission In opposition to the acceptor-With regards to the data of the proposer

After now we have mentioned the communication of provide and acceptance, the following half is the mode during which communication takes place. Beforehand it was finished primarily by the assistance of submit that’s by postal communication or telegrams. However now within the time we reside, provide and acceptance takes place by way of digital mails or the completely different social platforms and messaging apps.


As talked about these days, the commonest mode of communication is digital however when the Indian Contract Act was drafted it solely talked about the postal mode. With the assistance of the postal mode the principles for the digital mode have been interpreted.

The foundations of contracts by submit (postal guidelines) embody the next:

  1. A proposal made by submit/letter is just not efficient till it’s acquired by the one to whom it’s made
  2. Acceptance is efficient as quickly as it’s posted.

For understanding the postal guidelines we have to perceive these fundamental two guidelines first one is when a suggestion is made is just not legitimate till acquired by the particular person to whom it’s made. However on the facet of the offeree, the acceptance is full as quickly because the letter is posted. It is because it turns into out of the facility of the acceptor to make any modifications. Now if the particular person desires to revoke this provide she or he would possibly submit the letter of revocation with the assistance of velocity submit. This revocation will stand legitimate if it involves the data of the proposer/provide earlier than the acceptance.

Adams v. Lindsell

Adams v. Lindsell [6] is taken into account to be the primary landmark case in England which led to the institution of postal guidelines for acceptance of a suggestion.


The info of Adams v Lindsell are that: the defendants wrote to the plaintiffs on 2nd September, providing to promote them some wool and requested that the plaintiffs reply ‘in course of submit’ they specified the mode right here . The letter which contained the provide was wrongly addressed and subsequently the plaintiffs didn’t obtain it till the fifth of September. The letter of acceptance was not acquired till the ninth of September by the defendants, and this was two days later than the anticipated date. Due to this, on September 8 the defendants had bought the wool to a 3rd particular person.


The problem for the courtroom, on this case, was subsequently whether or not a contract of sale had been entered into earlier than September 8 when the wool was bought to the third get together. If the acceptance was efficient when it arrived on the handle or when the defendant noticed it, then no contract would have been made and the sale to the third get together would quantity to revocation of the provide.


The courtroom held that the provide had been accepted as quickly because the letter had been posted because it turned out of the facility of the acceptor. Thus, there was a contract in existence earlier than the sale of the wool to the third get together, regardless that the letter had not really been acquired by the defendant. The defendant was subsequently liable in breach of contract.

There are a number of theories concerning the Postal rule in Adams v Lindsell.

1. The primary concept is that the provide can reject this provide with a faster technique of communication this may be velocity submit or anything.

2. One other concept is that with out the postal rule an offeree wouldn’t be capable to know for sure whether or not they had really entered right into a contract or not. When an offeror chooses to begin making a suggestion by submit, he takes the danger of delays and accidents within the submit, that is understood. Nonetheless, the offeror can keep away from the established on this case by expressly stipulating that he’s to not be certain till precise receipt of the acceptance.

3. An extra concept for the existence of the postal rule is that if the offeror says the postal technique of acceptance is sufficient she or he would possibly bear the results as we mentioned on this case. Furthermore, Adams v Lindsell might be thought-about assist for the concept the offeror needs to be thought-about as making the provide on a regular basis that the provide is within the submit, and that subsequently the settlement between the 2 events is full in the meanwhile that acceptance is posted.

4. On this case itself it was advised (at 683) that if the rule didn’t exist “no contract may ever be accomplished by submit”. On this method the offeror won’t be certain by his or her provide till it’s notified to him and the of free won’t be certain by his or her acceptance till it’s notified that it has come to the data of the offeror. One additional motive for the existence of the rule on this landmark case is that the Put up Workplace could be thought-about to be the widespread agent of each events, and subsequently communication to this agent instantly completes the contract. Nonetheless, if the acceptance letter is just not carrying any handle or is just not addressed to any explicit place or particular person then the acceptance of the contract is just not full as their supply of the letter to the agent doesn’t make the acceptance full. The Adams v Lindsell postal rule solely applies when it’s affordable to make use of the submit as a way of speaking acceptance. So, a suggestion made in a letter despatched by submit might be accepted by submit. But at different instances postal acceptance could also be affordable. Nonetheless, Adams v Lindsell won’t usually apply the place acceptance is made by posting in response to a suggestion made by some instantaneous mode of communication. This rule may even not be utilized if the recipient is aware of that modes of postal communication have been disrupted throughout that point.


The postal rule, created in 1818, was not framed in such a way that it stands according to instantaneous modes of communication resembling fax, electronic mail and e-commerce methods and subsequently it’s criticized by many individuals. When the courtroom faces completely different points every day the issue is of the 2 strategies head to head and distance communication which mixes up and causes confusion. To clear it the courts as we speak don’t combine these two up reasonably clear up it utilizing easy legal guidelines as they are often interpreted.

The regulation of contract requires a suggestion and acceptance to be in place in a sure method, that is to make sure that there may be certainty between the 2 events contracting; there may be additionally one other side to this India is a creating nation, lots of people from outdoors India attempt to spend money on varied initiatives right here. There’s a contractual relationship taking form and to offer surety to this strengthening this regulation turns into of prime significance.

As we progressed the query the courts tackled was if the postal rule was broad sufficient to be utilized to an instantaneous mode of communication. As digital strategies have progressed, the dispatch and receipt of a message tends to coincide and any regulation that offers with the delay between the 2, such because the postal rule, appears to be rendered ineffective or out of date. It has been held {that a} phone dialog is similar as a dialog that’s held between two folks in the identical room so the ‘receipt’ rule applies; we are able to perceive this that communication of acceptance must be heard by the offeror then solely a contract is shaped. There’s an assumption right here {that a} message of acceptance despatched throughout workplace hours tends to be acquired. Nonetheless, an issue arises when the mode of communication is named instantaneous however in precise actuality it isn’t, Lord Fraser handled this drawback in Brinkibon Ltd v Stahag Stahl [8] and acknowledged that accountability and danger is on the one that receives the message in the event that they select to not man their machines . The regulation concerning instantaneous appears to be extra concise and fairer than the postal rule, instantaneous strategies have been used for a few years for the reason that instances above and have had little or no impact on commerce which might be an indicator that it’s perceived as simply and acceptable by society.

To summarize we are able to say, it appears the postal rule is just not utterly outdated; it could possibly nonetheless apply to fashionable non-instant strategies of communication resembling e-mail. Right here we are able to think about the instances of mails that aren’t opened for some that get into the trash bin, the courtroom of Singapore is taken into account to be a non-instant type of communication; however nonetheless, the controversy goes on as this easy factor could be interpreted by completely different courts in their very own method.

To carry into discover the willingness or assent of the events to enter right into a contract one wants to speak. This mode of communication could be postal or instantaneous. Part 3 of the Indian Contract Act states that communication could be made by an act or omission, the primary mode any act means any conduct and phrases, written or oral. Written phrases embody letters, telegrams, messages, ads whereas oral phrases embody phone messages.

Sunidhi Singh


Sunidhi hails from Symbiosis Legislation College, NOIDA and spends most of her time researching, studying and debating. Her Curiosity areas are regulation and coverage. For any clarifications, suggestions, and recommendation, you’ll be able to attain us at [email protected]

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