Email disclaimers are everywhere, so much so that they blend into the background and largely go unnoticed. There has been some debate as to the validity of email disclaimers and how effective they are. If you talk to a California business lawyer about the importance of using an email disclaimer it is likely that you will get an answer that may sound a bit convoluted. The thing with email disclaimers is that depending on the situation, they can either be absolutely necessary or they may not do too much to help you and your company.
Should a California Business Use Email Disclaimers?
Businesses use email disclaimers as a form of protection from lawsuits. Some email disclaimers are very useful and necessary, some email disclaimers are mandatory. Other times, email disclaimers don’t do too much in terms of legal protection. The good news is, even if you are in a situation where using an email disclaimer isn’t likely to benefit your business but you still want to use them, your business will probably suffer no harm.
When you are sending out an email with specific information in it such as professional advice, using a disclaimer indicating that the information within the email shouldn’t be relied on makes sense. If the guidance you provided in your email was false or caused someone harm, then you can be subject to a lawsuit for the damages caused by the email. A court will have to determine the relationship you had with the individual who was harmed. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that when a disclaimer is clearly writing in “plain English” it can prove that there was no relationship between you and the person that is suing you.
Another useful way that disclaimers can help you is by stopping contract formation. Maybe you send an email to a contractor inquiring about services. The contractor interprets the email as you hiring them for their services. Email disclaimers that state there is no intention to form a contract can avoid the establishment of an unintentional deal or arrangement.
Potentially an email disclaimer can protect against third-party lawsuits. If two companies are in the midst of negotiations and one of the companies accidentally sends out confidential information to a third party that isn’t permitted to see it, a lawsuit against the company that sent the email could arise. However, when a disclaimer that says any parties who are not meant to see the information must delete it, the company who had their confidential information dispersed may not have a successful suit. The courts will review all the information.
If the disclaimer is clearly and explicitly placed at the beginning of the email, there may be a case that the party that was not authorized to see the information should have followed the direction of the disclaimer. However, if the disclaimer is at the end of the email, then the court may interpret the situation to be that it is almost impossible not to read the confidential information. This is so because it wouldn’t be known that it had to be deleted until the email was already read.
Speak with a California Business Attorney Today
There are several factors that will determine if an email disclaimer is necessary, required, or ineffective. Also, the location where you put your disclaimer can make a difference. To learn more about how to protect yourself when you use email communications call the Los Angeles business attorneys at Leiva Law to schedule a free consultation at (818) 519-4465.