An email disclaimer is a short notice that you should add to any email that comes from a company account. Typically, it is below the mail message, often right at the very end of an email.
Email disclaimers are typically short and to the point, helping a company to avoid any liability that they may have evoked by sending the email. There are a range of cases where an email disclaimer absolutely must be included:
- To Limit Redistribution – One of the main reasons to include an email disclaimer is to ensure that an employee or other recipient cannot use the message for other purposes or redistribute it under any circumstances.
- Stopping Data Breaches – If there is confidential information in the email, a company could include a short clause that restricts the employee from sharing any of the data within the email. This goes a long way to stop data breaches, as any form of sharing would allow the company to sue an individual for going beyond the disclaimer.
- Outlining Legality – Emails are rarely legally binding. To make this evidently clear, companies will often write a part of their disclaimer which tells any recipient that this is not a legally binding email and does not constitute any form of contract.
- Damages – To stop employees from suing for damages and using the email as proof of negative advice, a company may write a small disclaimer to stop this possibility.
- Viruses – While used to a much lesser degree than the others above, a disclaimer that includes a short clause that says a company cannot be held responsible for any computer viruses found in the email is becoming increasingly common.
Quite simply, email disclaimers are there to ensure companies remain completely safe from any legal issues they could run into when communicating over email. The varying complexity of a disclaimer could be to cover a company for different circumstances. In fact, the longest ever disclaimer came from S. G Warburg & Co., an investment bank that is known to have an email disclaimer of over 1,000 words.
Main Dos of Email Disclaimers
Let’s quickly move through the top three Dos that you should always remember when composing and sending an email disclaimer. These three elements are vast, with each of them pertaining to a different possible circumstance that you could find yourself in.
Always remember that when using an email disclaimer:
- Do include specificities – Within your email disclaimer, one of the worst things you can do is just copy another company’s disclaimer. Each email disclaimer should be company-specific, as this will allow you to include specific information that may only pertain to your company or industry. Always be specific, and get down what you need to protect your company.
- Do include disclaimers on internal emails – Much like when sending external emails, you should aim to include disclaimers on all of your internal emails, too. By including these internal disclaimers, you make sure that your internal company emails stay internal, preventing anyone from sharing any information with the outside world. You’d be surprised at how many lawsuits have been won due to internal disclaimers and stating that emails shouldn’t be distributed further than the recipients.
- Definitely vary your disclaimer – Depending on which department is sending an email, the specific disclaimer clauses that will need to be included will also vary. With this considered, you should attempt to create department-specific disclaimers as to better protect your company and all of the individual teams that make it up.
With these three Dos, you’ll be well on your way to creating better email disclaimers and keeping your company safe when communicating through email.
Main Don’t of Email Disclaimers
Now we know what to do when creating and sending an email disclaimer, let’s see exactly what we shouldn’t do. Each of these recommendations comes from industry experience, with companies forgetting each of these aspects normally being burnt in the long run. From legal issues to just running the flow of conversation, a badly structured email disclaimer can get you into all sorts of problems.
To make sure your email disclaimers are as legible and effective as possible, make sure you avoid the following circumstances:
- Don’t leave one off – No matter what you’re doing, do not forget about email disclaimers; this is an easy way to leave your company open to a lawsuit. The easiest way to remember to include one is to use an email signature and include it there. Take a look at these email signature examples in 2022 for some modern ideas on how to incorporate your email disclaimer.
- Don’t write a novel – Your email disclaimer doesn’t have to be pages and pages long. The best practice is to write the most important information and then simply include a hyperlink to a disclaimer page on your website where more information is located. With this, you’ll be able to ensure your company is completely covered without taking up lots of room in every single email that you send.
- Definitely don’t include one in your email text – Including a disclaimer within the email text is one of the easiest ways of doubling the size of an email and making conversation chains an absolute nightmare to navigate. Always include your email disclaimer in your email signature, often right at the end of the message, as this will ensure it is easy to find and present, without getting in the way of actual communication.
By remembering never to do these things when creating and inserting an email disclosure, you’ll ensure you have a clear, locatable, and concise email disclaimer that tells people absolutely everything they need to know. Instead of creating long and overly wordy email signatures, avoiding these three terrible practices will keep you on the right path going forward.
If you’re a business that actively engages in email marketing, or any correspondence via this social channel, then you’re most likely going to need an email disclaimer to post at the bottom of your email. Considering their importance in preventing any precarious legal circumstances, it’s always a good idea to get your legal team to draw one up.
Depending on the complexity of your business, the length of your disclaimer will vary. It’s always best to get one custom-created for you, as this will help the disclaimer cover exactly what your business needs. With this, you’ll know exactly what you’re covered for and can send marketing emails to your heart’s content.