A "precondition" of a method describes the state of the server that must be true for that method to be performed. A "postcondition" of a method describes the state of the server that must be true after that method has been completed. If a method precondition or postcondition for a request is not satisfied, the response status of the request MUST either be 403 (Forbidden), if the request should not be repeated because it will always fail, or 409 (Conflict), if it is expected that the user might be able to resolve the conflict and resubmit the request.

In order to allow better client handling of 403 and 409 responses, a distinct XML element type is associated with each method precondition and postcondition of a request. When a particular precondition is not satisfied or a particular postcondition cannot be achieved, the appropriate XML element MUST be returned as the child of a top-level DAV:error element in the response body, unless otherwise negotiated by the request.

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