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Effectiveness of adding legal disclaimers to e-mail messages

4:01 am on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

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I was recently asked by a manufacturing company in Japan to look into the pros and cons of attaching those short confidentiality disclaimers at the end of e-mail messages. They've seen some of their customers using them and wanted to know whether they were necessary. You know the type:
Unless otherwise agreed expressly in writing by a [senior manager] of [company], this communication is to be treated as confidential and the information in it may not be used or disclosed except for the purpose for which it has been sent. If you have reason to believe that you are not the intended recipient of this communication, please contact the sender immediately.

I've been looking on the net for advice about using such confidentiality disclaimers, but most of my search results are coming up with lawyer's sites, most of whom are wholeheartedly in favor of any and all types of disclaimers. What I'd like to know is whether this is a growing trend, or just a carry-over from the fax cover sheet days that has outlived its usefulness. Are a lot of companies using this? It seems to me to be a bit over litigious to attach this type of signature to every outgoing e-mail. What are your impressions? Do you see a lot of this with corporate clients?
5:45 am on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

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In the past year I've done work for some big name corporate clients and I haven't run into any disclaimers on emails.

Seems like major overkill to me.

8:29 am on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

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We see it a lot in emails from consulting companies (Arthur Andersen - accenture etc) and several Asian banks etc.. so it probably depends on the industry.

Our parent company is a research company and we dont use them. Generally the feeling is that anything remotely confidential should not be sent by email anyway. And in Asia we hate putting things on paper anyway.. saying nothing of email.

We have a feeling some people use them to make their emails seem more important!

And its not easy to prove that someone used confidential info from an email anyway.

11:29 am on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

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I got one of those yesterday, from a marketing manager who wanted SEO (he was part of a company that did a corporate takeover of one of my existing clients, then he himself moved to a different company and got in touch again).
Anyway, I forwarded it to a couple of our Directors, just to keep them in touch, but when I did I wondered if I could get sued. I do hope not. It's definitely overkill.


12:55 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

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The company I work for has around a paragraph worth. I was instructed to attach it to every e-mail going out to the Internet automaticaly.


1:46 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Same here GWJ
Can't see the point of it myself but *shrug* who is to argue with the legal dept?