Email disclaimers are statements that are either prepended or appended to e-mails. These statements are usually of a legal character but can also be used for marketing purposes. A disclaimer can also be used on a website. However, this site only covers the use of disclaimers in email communications & the related email law.
Why do you need disclaimers?
If you were to be so unlucky to be sued for the contents of an e-mail, it is not certain whether an email disclaimer will protect you from liability in a court of law. However, it will certainly help your case and in some situations might exempt you from liability. More importantly, it may well prevent the actual occurrence of lawsuits against university since the mere presence of the statement might deter most persons from seeking legal compensation from university. Therefore the use of disclaimers is always recommended.
There are 4 legal threats that disclaimers can help protect against:
1. Breach of confidentiality: By including a disclaimer that warns that the content of the e-mail is confidential, you can protect university against the exposure of confidential information. If the receiver breaches this confidentiality, they could be liable.
2. Accidental breach of confidentiality: If an employee were to receive a confidential mail from someone and by accident forward it to the wrong person, the employee, and therefore university, could be liable. This can easily happen. For instance a wrongly addressed e-mail can be forwarded to a postmaster, who might not be authorized to read the mail. Furthermore, e-mail can easily be intercepted. If you include a statement at the end of your mail that the message is only intended for the addressee, and that if anyone receives the e-mail by mistake they are bound to confidentiality, this could protect you.
3. Transmission of viruses: If an employee sends or forwards an e-mail that contains a virus, university can be sued for this. Apart from implementing a good virus checker that blocks viruses entering and leaving university via e-mail, you can also warn in your disclaimer that the e-mail can possibly contain viruses and that the receiver is responsible for checking and deleting viruses.
4. Entering into contracts: Written communication, including e-mail, can be used to form binding legal contracts if the individuals have actual or apparent authority to do so. If you do not wish certain employees to be able to form binding contracts by email, you could include a statement that any form of contract needs to be confirmed by the person's manager.
Note: There is no disclaimer that can protect against actual libelous or defamatory content. The most a disclaimer can accomplish in this respect is to reduce the responsibility of university, since it can prove that university has acted responsibly and done everything in its power to stop employees from committing these offenses.
Breach of confidentiality & accidental breach of confidentiality
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.
Transmission of viruses
WARNING: Computer viruses can be transmitted via email. The recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. International Burch University accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email. E-mail transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late or incomplete, or contain viruses. The sender therefore does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this message, which arise as a result of e-mail transmission.
Warning: Although International Burch University has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, International Burch University cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments.
Entering into contracts
No employee or agent is authorized to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of International Burch University with another party by email without express written confirmation by Rector of university or Secretary General.