An email disclaimer is a statement (usually of a legal character) that is added to an email. There have been several lawsuits with multi-million dollar penalties concerning the contents of corporate emails.  Companies are increasingly aware that by using email they are exposing themselves to legal threats.  The presence of an email disclaimer might well deter people from suing a company in relation to the contents of an email.  It may also, in certain circumstances, exempt a company or business owner from liability in the event that they are sued based on the contents of an email. There are a number of reasons why a standard email disclaimer should be included at the end of emails. These reasons are set out below:

  • Confidentiality
  • Viruses
  • Employer liability
  • Contractual Rights
  • Marketing

1. Employer Liability

An employer may be vicariously liable for the acts of its employees (i.e. liable as if the employer had itself committed the act of the employee). In conjunction with a policy on email and internet use (see LegalVision’s “Employee Handbook” or “Email Use Policy”), an email disclaimer may reduce the risk of an employer being held liable for the acts of its employees if it can be shown that the employer has a clear policy regarding email use and the employee breached that policy.

2. Confidentiality

An email disclaimer may warn the recipient of the email that the content of the email is confidential, it is only intended for receipt by the addressee and that if the recipient is not the addressee and has received the email in error then they must keep the email confidential.  This may protect the sender and their employer against a breach of confidentiality.

3. Viruses

If an employee of a company sends an email that contains a virus, the employer may be liable if the employee is sued by the recipient of the email. An email disclaimer may therefore contain a warning that the email may include viruses and it is the responsibility of the receiver to check for viruses on emails and delete them.

4. Contractual Rights

An email is a written communication, just like any other written communication. It is therefore possible for a person to enter into a legally binding contract by email. An email disclaimer may provide that an employee does not have the authority to enter into a legally binding contract by email.

5. Marketing

An email disclaimer can include company information (e.g. address, website details or slogan) or convey to a company’s customers that it encourages responsible use of email for business purposes and is aware of its obligations in using email. The LegalVision Email Disclaimer only contains a confidentiality notice, and no marketing message. You can also insert a brief marketing message in your email disclaimer if you wish or otherwise add to or amend it so that it meets with your requirements.

Conclusion

It’s important that you use an Email Disclaimer when sending out important emails. Doing so will protect you and your business. Contact one of our business solicitors today on 1300 544 755 if you have any other enquiries.

Lachlan McKnight

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