Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Awful E-mail Disclaimers?

Apparently, there's no legal basis for them, so is it time to get rid of them? I say yes, the sooner, the better!

Legal disclaimers: Spare us the e-mail yada-yada:
E-mail disclaimers are one of the minor nuisances of modern office life, along with fire drills, annual appraisals and colleagues who keep sneezing loudly. Just think of all the extra waste paper generated when messages containing such waffle are printed. They are assumed to be a wise precaution. But they are mostly, legally speaking, pointless. Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries.

Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable. This is clear in Europe, where a directive from the European Commission tells the courts to strike out any unreasonable contractual obligation on a consumer if he has not freely negotiated it. And a footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal. Related topics Los Angeles United States

So why are the disclaimers there? Company lawyers often insist on them because they see others using them.

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