Is electronic registered mail (or eRegistered mail) legally binding and enforceable? The law sometimes requires an important communication to someone to be in a specific form to ensure that the recipient actually receives it. For example, a law may specify that a communication must be a registered mail, or by registered post or certified post. In South Africa, the National Credit Act (NCA) and Debt Collectors Act refer to letters. What form can these letters take? Can they be an email, MMS or SMS? If the law specifies registered mail, can it be sent by registered email?
Will your communication for legally binding? Will a court regard them as valid and enforceable? What method of delivery is the right one to use? Will a court accept that you have delivered a document?
What does the law say about Electronic Registered Mail?
In South Africa, section 19(4) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) says that where any law requires (or permits) a person to send a document (or information) by registered (or certified) post (or similar service) that requirement is met if an electronic copy of the document or information is:
- sent to the South African Post Office Limited (SAPO),
- registered by the said Post Office, and
- sent by that Post Office to the electronic address provided by the sender.
SAPO has indeed launched an eRegistered mail service and is the only entity entitled to do so.
How we can help you
- Ensure your communications are legally binding and enforceable by analysing specific cases and providing you with a legal opinion setting out what form they must be in.
- Answering specific questions you have, like:
- Can you charge for the communication?
- Who should you send the notice too?
- When do you have to use the SAPO service?
- When can you use email or SMS?
- When can you use social media (like facebook)?
- Improve the evidentiary weight of your notifications and communications.
- Review your terms or policies (especially the consent clause) to check that you obtain any enabling consents and gather the correct contact details (bearing in mind that this is personal information).
- Review your standard notices clauses in the contracts you conclude with third parties. Are you happy to receive registered electronic mail?
- Use the right signatures with your communications.
- Assess whether the SAPO eRegistered mail services meets the legislative requirements.
- Convince a court that an electronic registered mail is legally binding.