Why You and Your Company Need Email Disclaimers
There are various reasons why you might decide to add disclaimers to your e-mails. As attorneys, my office always sees problems through liability colored glasses. If you include a disclaimer advising a recipient that the content of your email is confidential, you can help protect yourself, and your company, in the event that confidentiality is breached.
In my office, emails are forwarded on a daily basis; probably hundreds of times per day. But what if that email is forwarded to the wrong person? That’s a scenario that keeps lawyers awake at night. But a well-worded disclaimer could protect you and your company from an otherwise costly mistake. And since we are talking about forwarded emails, what if one is forwarded and it contains a virus? What if you, singlehandedly, shut down the nation’s federal banks because of a virus that was attached to an email that you forwarded? Again, a disclaimer could shield you and your company from any liability in that very scenario.
Gardi & Haught, Ltd., practices various areas of the law. One of our largest areas of practice is residential real estate. What happens when a realtor, or a banker, gives advice to a customer that turns out to be flat our wrong? What if that customer relies on that advice, and suffers damages, and looks to you or your company to cover those damages? A disclaimer could block such an action.
While an employer is generally responsible for the actions of its employees, if an employer takes care to properly instruct its employees (by specifically warning employees, in writing, on the proper use of email, as well as requiring the company-wide use of an email disclaimer) an employer can certainly avoid, or at the least minimize corporate liability.
So what type of disclaimer is best for you and/or your company? The answer to that: it depends. It depends on what type of industry you are in. A good disclaimer for a law firm may not necessarily be the same as a good disclaimer for a construction company. As a general rule, you want your disclaimer to be specific. Although cumbersome, you may want your disclaimer to specifically reference the name of intended recipient.
Finally, as I write this, it suddenly occurred to me, what if you readers rely on the above to your detriment!!! And then I had an idea – I better add a disclaimer:
This message and all accompanying communications are covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2521, and contain information intended for the specified individual(s) only. The information is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient or an agent responsible for delivering the communication to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that you have received this communication in error and that any review, dissemination, copying of, or the taking of any action based upon, the contents of the communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the original message. Thank you.