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last updated: 29th July 2011

Normally whenever goods are delivered and a delivery note signed, the signature signifies that the goods/services have been accepted and hence, the performance of the contract completed. There are a number of points that are important.

You will have accepted the goods if you

  • tell the supplier that you are accepting them
     
  • modify them in any way
     
  • hold on to them for a reasonable period of time without telling the supplier that you are rejecting them
     

Acceptance does not occur until you have had a chance to examine the goods, however, the law may view individual cases of ‘signing on acceptance’ in different ways. If you are unsure, check with your Head of Procurement.

Commissioning and acceptance testing
Within the contract there may be a requirement, for example, to commission the goods and complete acceptance tests prior to formally accepting them.  Here, the signing of a delivery note is simply acknowledging that the goods/services have been received.  Formal acceptance will not be until the actions, stipulated in the contract documentation, have been successfully completed.

Bulk goods
If you receive a consignment of goods, either by a single delivery or partial deliveries, if any of the items are faulty and the others are acceptable, you can hold on to the goods that are alright , but reject the bad ones.

No time to check delivery
Where it is not reasonable to check the delivered goods/services the delivery note should be marked, 'Goods received but not checked'.  This will acknowledge their receipt but not their acceptance.  It is important that they are checked as soon as possible as a delay in advising of problems or your intention to reject the goods may reduce your grounds should a dispute arise over a rejection of the goods.  A protracted delay could also imply acceptance.

Note: where deliveries are made to a central receipt and distribution point (eg a central Post Room) and staff simply sign for the packages, they should always sign the courier's delivery documentation 'Goods received but not checked'.
 

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