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You might tend to avoid scrolling down to the standard email disclaimer you find at the bottom of corporate messages, finding it irrelevant and full of jargon. However, if you have started your own business you'll need to decide whether to use one and, if so, what it should say.
To make things easier for you, we've put together a simple guide to the different types of email disclaimer and where to find a free template that you can tailor to your needs.
An email disclaimer is a notice placed at the end of a business's outgoing emails to protect it from unintended use of the content. As a business is legally responsible for information contained in emails sent from its domain, an email disclaimer can help to reduce legal risk. See the sample below from Lawpath for an example of an email disclaimer.
Download this email disclaimer template at Lawpath
When you're ready to start sending messages from your business's email domain, you should set up an email disclaimer to be automatically added at the end of all your communications. You can do this in the settings of your email account or software program.
The type of email disclaimer you use and what you include in it depends on the type of business you're running. There are six main types of disclaimer targeting different uses of the information that the emails contain:
In addition to the information disclaiming liability for the content of the email, you may want to include a few other pieces of information to protect your company. Providing your company's contact information makes it convenient for recipients to get in touch with you. Placing an unsubscribe link in marketing emails allows customers to opt out of your mailing list. Listing terms and conditions, for example for a special offer for your products, clarifies your intentions and avoids misunderstanding.
There's no need to cover all six types of disclaimer in a single block of text, This would resemble a small novel and would guarantee your recipients skip over it. Pick the areas that are most relevant to your business. If you do need to include a lot of detail, to keep the email disclaimer short you can provide a link to a longer version hosted somewhere on your company website.
There is a vigorous debate about whether using an email disclaimer is necessary. Most people never scroll down to the bottom of the email to read them, so there is a question about their effectiveness in preventing improper use of their content.
In some countries, such as the US, UK, and European Union, companies are required by law to include an email disclaimer in all their communications. However, in Australia, while email disclaimers are considered to be best practice, they are not a legal requirement.
The statements laid out in a disclaimer are not necessarily legally binding and a court is likely to focus on the content of an email rather than the wording of the disclaimer. Yet, they may deter someone from taking legal action against your company in the first place.
You do not need a lawyer to write an effective email disclaimer, especially because it is not a legally binding statement. Depending on the type of work your company does, you may choose to have a lawyer look over the text for you and give you tailored advice. If you do want to engage a lawyer, compare the online services below.
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As outlined above, the way you write your email disclaimer will depend on what is most important for your business. For example, if you regularly communicate with customers by email, you may want to include wording that makes it clear the content of an email discussion does not constitute a contract. If you are communicating sensitive information, you may want to prominently feature a statement about confidentiality.
To keep it short, try to use language that covers a number of different scenarios. You can opt to use a template like those listed below to help you structure your disclaimer if you are not sure about how to write it.
If you're looking for inspiration on what to include in your email disclaimer and how to word it without getting tangled up in legal jargon, you can find a template on these legal websites to help you get started:
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