Email and Site Disclaimers

    May 14, 2004

While laws vary from country to country, it does seem that the overall view of government is that everyone needs protection from everyone else – to a ridiculous agree.

Given the increasing incidence of people suing each other for stupid reasons, and usually because they are short on the ability to use common sense, it’s a very good idea to have a disclaimer on your site.

While it’s very wise to employ a legal professional to create a disclaimer particular to your online business; this can be a very expensive process. Even a simple disclaimer such as the following can offer some protection:

Web site usage disclaimer example:

“Disclaimer. The information contained in this archive is provided ‘as is’ without warranty of any kind. The entire risk as to the results and the performance of the information is assumed by the user, and in no event shall YOUR COMPANY NAME be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages suffered in the course of using the information in this archive. Use of the information contained in this archive are governed by their respective license agreements and may contain restrictions on use.”

This should be linked to on every page.

Email Disclaimers

Every single email you send is a legal document. Many careers and companies have been ended by off-the-cuff remarks made in a single email. Also, the explosion of email viruses has raised the prospect of businesses being sued by consumers or other businesses should they even accidentally transmit a virus to someone else.

Added to these risks; if you have a number of employees, it’s very difficult to keep tabs on what your team are communicating to others. They may knowingly or unknowingly misrepresent your company. Another point to bear in mind is that a great deal of commercial in confidence type information is usually shunted between businesses – this is also something you want to protect.

A disclaimer notice at the bottom of each email can help to address these issues. In instances where you are sending ideas or strategies to another party, it’s a good idea to also make the confidential nature of the contents clear in the subject line – before anyone has a chance to read any of the contents; e.g:

“commercial in confidence ATT: RECIPIENTS NAME”.

As for the protection this will offer you, again it depends upon the country.

An email disclaimer example:

Disclaimer – This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and contain privileged or copyright information. You must not present this message to another party without first gaining permission from the sender. If you are not the intended recipient you must not copy, distribute or use this email or the information contained in it for any purpose other than to notify us.

If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. We do not guarantee that this material is free from viruses or any other defects although due care has been taken to minimise the risk.

Any views stated in this communication are those of the actual sender and not necessarily those of YOUR COMPANY.”

This is a rather large block of text to append to each email; it all depends on how you feel about confidentiality as to how much you choose to use or discard – but in my opinion, the part about virus scanning is particularly important.

Please Note: This article contains the unqualified opinion of Michael Bloch, does not necessarily reflect the views of and should not be considered as professional advice.

… I’ve just created a disclaimer for this article :).

Michael Bloch is the Business Operations Manager of ThinkHost, a USA based company that has been providing hosting solutions to the world since 1999.