The shares of An Post are issued to the Minister for Finance. Originally, the postal company had a monopoly. An Post remains the dominant postal service provider but has been subject to communications regulation derived from EU Directives on liberalization of State monopolies.
The legislation now provides for the grants of the licences to provide postal services. These functions have been transferred to the Communications Regulator.
The general duty of the postal company, An Post is to conduct its affairs so as to ensure charges are kept to a minimum consistent with approved financial targets. Revenues must be not less than the amount sufficient to meet charges, property charged to the revenue account, generate a reasonable proportion of its capital needs, and remunerate capital and repay its borrowings.
Mail and Postal Packages
An Post has power to , collect and receive forward convey and deliver mail and postal packages within the State. Certain limited categories of letters are outside the scope of postal regulation. These include
- letters sent personally by the sender
- the sending, conveyance, and delivery of a postal packet by means of a private individual otherwise than for hire or reward where that individual herself or himself delivers the packet to the addressee,
- the sending, conveyance and delivery of a postal packet concerning the private affairs of the sender or the addressee by means of a messenger sent for the purpose by the sender or receiver of the packet provided that the messenger is either a member of the family or an employee of the sender or receiver thereof,
- the sending, conveyance, and delivery otherwise than by post of any document issuing out of a court or of any return or answer thereto,
- the sending, conveyance and delivery of a postal packet of the owner of a merchant ship or commercial aircraft or of goods carried in such a ship or aircraft by means of that ship or aircraft and its delivery to the addressee by any person employed for the purpose by the owner provided that no payment or reward, profit or advantage of any kind is given or received for the conveyance or delivery of the packet,
- the sending, conveyance and delivery by means of a common carrier of postal packets concerning and for delivery with goods carried by the carrier, provided that no payment or reward, profit or advantage of any kind is given or received for the conveyance or delivery of those packets.
Regulations and Tariffs
An Post may provide terms and conditions applicable to its services. The terms may prohibit the transmission of objectionable matters. It may refuse, detain, or return postal packages which do not comply with the terms of schemes or which contain objectionable matter. They impose conditions and restrictions, mode of packing colour and design of packets.
Detailed Post Office Regulations are prescribed by warrant. These include details of rules postage rate, weight and terms and conditions. The consent of the Minister is required.
A postal package must be posted, conveyed, and delivered subject to the regulations regarding time and mode of delivery, place, payment of postage as are prescribed.
An Post make schemes of charges. When not prepaid in full by the sender, the addressee must pay the deficiency. The receiver may reject it and compel the sender to pay the amounts due. When an Inland letter or package is not paid prepaid, a penalty fee may apply.
An Post may require prepayment or security for sums that may become due. Sums due for postage may be recovered in the same manner as sums due for sums for custom duty. Smaller sums due may be recovered as a civil debt.
The company makes schemes for the exemption of postal charges in respect of election material. The forms are recouped from the governmental fund.
Under the Postal Union Convention, 1939 correspondence exchanged between administrations did not involve charges to each. It was subject to prescribed transit charges paid by the country of origin to each of the countries transited. This was based on statistical evidence taken every three years. The British and Irish Post Offices share in proportion to their outgoing mails, the payments made for the carriage of mail by rail.
The production of a postal package with a postal charge impressed is evidence of the amount due in any proceedings for recovery.
Transport of Post
An Post may require railway companies to convey mails. They may be required to provide sorting carriages. Special mail trains may be provided. Remuneration is by agreement or by independent arbitrators in default.
Masters of ships and aeroplanes must receive mailbags and have certain duties in respect of their carriage. They must be enclosed in a bag and sealed. There are duties in respect of delivery and safekeeping. Sealed bags may not be opened.
It is a serious offence for any person to unlawfully take or open mailbags either on a ship or aeroplane or under An Post’s custody. It is an offence to unlawfully retain any postal package in the course of transmission or any mailbags. They are further specific offences in respect of interference with mails by officers of An Post. The offences may be prosecuted summarily or on indictment.
The inward declaration in relation to ship requires a declaration in respect of postal packages has been made. It is an offence for masters of ships or aeroplanes to detain postal packages.
Local authorities have certain powers to establish or enhanced postal facilities if they believe it is beneficial to their inhabitants.
A person may not place against any post or in or near and letterbox, any fire, match lighter explosive or dangerous substance, any noxious or deleterious substance or fluid and shall not commit a nuisance in or against a post office or letterbox or do anything likely to injury or damage the box or its contents.
A person may not, and it is an offence to affix any card, advertisement, notice, document, or paint or tar any post box, letterbox, telegraph post or in any way to disfigure it.
It is an offence to issue, send or post any card, paper, letter etcetera with an imitation stamp. It is an offence to make, sell or issue fictitious stamps. It is an offence to have fictitious stamps in one’s possession.
A person shall not without authority from An Post, place on a house wall, box, post pillar or place belong to him or under his control, any words or letters specifying post box, letterbox, or any words to imply that is an An Post letterbox.
Interference with the Post
It is an offence for a person to open or attempt to open a postal packet addressed to another or delay or detain its delivery.
It is an offence to disclose its contents or use for any purpose, any information returned from it or tamper with it without the agreement of the addressees. An Post itself has certain privileges and rights to open packages.
It is an offence for employees of An Post involved in the delivery and clearance of mails to be careless, to be drunk, to give false information in relation to the assault or robbery, to collect receive or convey a postal package otherwise that in the ordinary course of post, to loiter on the road or passage are wilfully misspend times so as to retard the progress of post.
It is an offence to wilfully obstruct or incite an employee of An Post in the execution of his or her duty. It is an offence to obstruct the course of business of an officer of An Post. Such an officer may require any person obstructing as aforesaid to leave the post office premises. If he fails to do so, he is guilty of an offence and may be removed.
A person may not and it is an offence to send or attempt to send a postal package containing any explosive substance, dangerous substance, noxious or deleterious substance sharp instrument t not properly protected, living creature or which is either noxious or likely to injure other postal package or any other article likely to injure other parcels of packets.
A person may not, and it is an offence to enclose any indecent obscene, print, paintings, photographs, engravings, books, cards, or articles or have on the packet any marks or designs within of an indecent obscene or grossly offensive character. This offence may be prosecuted summarily or on indictment with imprisonment of up to five years.
Postal packages containing contraband goods may be detained and forwarded to the Customs ranch of the Revenue Commissioners. The Revenue in the presence of the person to whom it is addressed, or if following notice, he fails to attend may open and examine the package. If the contraband goods are found, they may be detained in the contents retained for prosecution.
Liability and Immunities
The liability of the postal company in respect of delay or failure to provide or operate or maintain the postal service or interruptions, suspensions or restrictions of the postal service is limited.
There are immunities from detention and seizure for mails, other than as specifically provided for by legislation.An Post may open unsealed packets, undeliverable packets, and uncollected packets.
An Post is not liable for the loss of postal packet or injury in the course of transmission. It is possible to pre-register postal packets and obtain limited insurance cover. An Post may voluntarily pay compensation as of act of grace.
An Post duty is to deliver the post packet as addressed. Delivery cannot be countermanded, or r redirected. If delivery cannot be effected, An Post is under no obligation to return the letter or parcel. In practice, letters and parcels are usually returned by An Post free of charge.
When letters would be delayed by the dispatch of large bulky items packets etc. An Post may give priority to the former.
An Post may register any packet with or without the consent of the consignor. Postage duty is prepaid by means of a stamp. Certificates of posting of unregistered mail may be obtained.
An Post may make provisions regarding money orders and postal orders. An Post may provide for transmission of small sums by way of money order. Regulations are made in relation to the particulars of money orders. Money orders include postal orders.
An Post may pay the amount of the money order to the person to whom the order is issued, its executors or administrator. Upon such payment, the liability ceases.
There are protections against An Post being liable in legal proceedings for certain errors and noncompliance with the relevant regulations.
There are offences in respect of fraudulent and false issuing of postal and money orders. The money order is subject to the legislation in relation to forgery and its modern equivalent.
Newspapers may be registered at the post office. They must be wholly or principally of political or other news or related to current topics with or without advancements. They must be published at regular intervals within the EU and have the full title and date of publication printed.
Registered newsletters receive a special rate of postage. Registration of newspapers may be suspended or changed from time to time.