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Emails will be central to how your business communicates and manages its affairs. It’s a contact point for your customers and one of the ways your staff will pass on information to one another. This information is likely to include critical business information and confidential data as well. One of the most common avenues for a data/privacy breach is through email, so you need to take measures to both secure your systems and limit your liability. For the latter point, email disclaimers can help somewhat. Indeed, they do not completely absolve you of responsibility if something goes wrong, but they can help your case. Therefore, this article will explain whether your emails need disclaimers.

What Is an Email Disclaimer?

An email disclaimer is usually a paragraph either at the beginning or end of an email detailing warnings and notices of caution. Its exact contents can vary but can contain warnings along the lines of:

It serves as a legal statement that puts the reader on notice of certain important issues, such as privacy and confidentiality. Mistakes can happen through business email, and a disclaimer aims to limit the fallout from those mistakes. Ideally, you should have email security measures in place as well.

For example, a person cannot rely on not knowing the email communication they received in mistake was confidential if there is a disclaimer at the end saying so.

Why Are Email Disclaimers Useful?

An email disclaimer can be useful for protecting your business against potential grievances and liability if something goes wrong. If your emails contain confidential or sensitive information, providing an email disclaimer lets your recipients know that they:

  • need to treat the information with due care;
  • cannot share it without authorisation; and
  • cannot misuse it and rely on saying that they did not know it was confidential.

An email disclaimer likely will not remove all responsibility from your business if there is a grievance. However, such a disclaimer can provide evidence that you informed recipients of any vital information, which may be helpful for your case.

When Should I Use Email Disclaimers?

You need to be careful that your email disclaimers are not too long or that you use them when it is not necessary. The point of an email disclaimer is to notify the recipient of any warnings and bring their attention to your limitations. If you repeatedly use disclaimers on emails that do not need them, recipients may not take them seriously. However, there is also the balance of covering your bases where possible. Generally, if your emails are likely to contain confidential or sensitive information, you should include an email disclaimer.

You also need to ensure you display your email disclaimers where recipients can see them. For example, ensure that you word them appropriately and that a reader could not easily miss them. Choose an appropriate:

  • placement;
  • text size;
  • font; and
  • colour.

What Kind of Email Disclaimers Do I Need?

The exact content that your email disclaimers should cover will depend on what legal issues are relevant for your business and its correspondence. When you seek legal advice, a lawyer can help you properly word your email disclaimer in a way that limits your liability and covers what areas are essential for your business. The table below sets out possible aspects to include in your disclaimer.

 

Intellectual Property

This notifies the recipient that your email contains your IP. Therefore, if they misuse or copy your IP, they cannot rely on not knowing that it was yours.

Intended Recipient

Your disclaimer can include a note saying that if the recipient was not who you intended, that they should disregard its contents and contact you that they received it in error. Misdirected emails can occur, so this is an important disclaimer to include.

Confidentiality

A notice of confidentiality notifies the recipient that the information in your email is confidential. So, they should treat it accordingly or in line with what you say in your disclaimer.

Employees

You may also include a disclaimer saying that your employees’ opinions/actions are their own and do not necessarily reflect your business’ stance.

Privacy

You can also include a notice that you handle any personal information according to your privacy policy, which you should link.

Contractual Liability

If you offer products through email, have a clear disclaimer saying that you do not intend to begin contractual relations. Then, you can avoid unintended contracts with this.

Unsubscribe Facility

All marketing emails need to have an option to unsubscribe. You cannot send marketing emails to people who have not consented to them, so a disclaimer can help when you have sent it to them in error.

Viruses

Your disclaimer can also detail that you do not accept any liability for computer viruses that may occur due to email communication.

Key Takeaways

Email disclaimers serve as warnings to put the recipient on notice if you are sending them confidential information. They can also help to limit your liability and meet your legal obligations for marketing emails. If you would like more information or help with your email disclaimers, contact LegalVision’s data, privacy, and IT lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an email disclaimer?

An email disclaimer is a notice at the top or bottom of your emails informing the recipient of any warnings or cautions.

What is an unsubscribe facility?

An unsubscribe facility refers to when you provide a way for your email recipients to unsubscribe from future emails. You may do this with a link to unsubscribe at the bottom of your email. When you send marketing emails, you need to include one.

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