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An email disclaimer is a statement added at the bottom of an email to limit a company's responsibility in the event of a problem or lawsuit. While an email disclaimer does not prevent a company from being sued, it may help to deter people from suing in the first place. An email disclaimer can also show the court the company took action to try and prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. Common examples of an email disclaimer are those which state a company is not responsible for any viruses which may come from an employee email, or that the receiver of the email is prohibited from sharing sensitive information found within the message.
Types of email disclaimers vary depending on what the company is trying to protect against. Common examples deal with confidential information, the actions of a company's employees, and rules on limiting contracts. Companies can add an email disclaimer to all emails stating that employees cannot enter into a contract without first having it approved through the company, and stating that the company is not held responsible if an employee sends a virus or other inappropriate information through the company's email system.
The idea behind the email disclaimer is simply to state that the company has done its best to prevent inaccurate or dangerous information from making its way into the email system, but that the company is not liable if it does. To back this up, the company should instate an employee policy with rules making it very clear what the employee can and cannot do through the company email system. If taken to court, the company can present both the disclaimer and the email policy as proof that it took all necessary actions to prevent any problems from occurring.
While email disclaimers can help protect a company, they are not foolproof. If the company breaks the law or is sued, the email disclaimer may or may not protect it in a court of law. It serves not as a legal statement, but rather a sign that the company took every available measure to prevent the illegal actions.
Another important way a company can protect itself is to ensure the email disclaimer is short, easy to understand, and easily identifiable so that it does not get confused with the regular text of the email. Disclaimers in a different color font or a large font size will draw attention to themselves. A company should confer with a lawyer or other legal adviser if it needs help writing an email disclaimer. If the company feels it is at a high risk of being sued, it should take other, more legally-binding steps to prevent issues from arising.
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