This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Legal advice sought or received in relation to Down Stream Access'.

Royal Mail’s vast size presents a significant barrier to entry for rival 
operators. This is especially true in delivery, where over its 350 year 
history the company has built up a network that delivers to almost every 
residential and business address in the country. 
A key part of opening up the postal market for competition has been 
allowing “access” to that delivery network. 
Access means allowing mail users (usually big business users) and 
licensed postal operators to make commercial agreements with Royal 
Mail allowing them to use the company’s staff and facilities to carry post 
for part of its journey.  
For licensed operators, access can provide a launch pad to build up 
their contacts with customers, as well as the volumes necessary to 
consider developing an end-to-end (collection through to delivery) 
network. For mail users, the benefit is a greater choice of operators – 
and therefore more choice of products and services. 
So far, access has been to Royal Mail’s local sorting centres, where mail 
is sorted ready for final delivery. Mail users or postal operators would 
collect and/or pre-sort mail before feeding it into Royal Mail’s systems at 
these local sorting centres. 
Royal Mail is required to negotiate “access agreements” with any 
interested large mailer or rival licensed operator. These are commercial 
agreements, negotiated independently of Postcomm - but if 
organisations are unable to agree with Royal Mail a fair price for access, 
we can intervene to ensure that it is made available on appropriate 

The first access agreement was negotiated between Royal Mail and UK 
Mail in 2004. Since then, more agreements have been set up and, 
according to Royal Mail’s latest figures (December 2008), approximately 
450 million items of mail per month are now handled under access 
Royal Mail also applies zonal pricing to some of its access agreements 
where it offers discounts to its customers (depends on the geographic 
mix of delivery addresses). 
Useful links 
• - Postcomm’s website, for further information on 
all aspects of the mail market and a glossary of postal terms, 
including those relating to access 
• – Royal Mail’s website 
• - Royal Mail’s website for national 
and zonal access services 
Please contact Postcomm for a full list of titles available in this series 
March 2009  
Postcomm is the independent regulator for postal services in the UK. This is one of 
a series of fact sheets designed to provide background information on key issues 
in the postal services sector. Contact us at 6 Hercules Road, London, SE1 7DB.  
Tel 020 7593 2100, Email 
A large print version is available.  
Please telephone: 020 7593 2100 or  
© Crown copyright 2006 
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