The top 10 tips for email disclaimers
It’s not exciting, but email disclaimers are still important for many organizations worldwide. So, check our top 10 email disclaimer guide to keep on top of email law.
1. Don't forget to use an email disclaimer
Whether you agree or not, using email disclaimers is law in certain countries, particularly in North America and Europe.
So, it still makes sense to use email disclaimers to protect your brand reputation and corporate liability. And, in some cases, they can be legally-binding. This is because some treat email signatures as any other electronic signature.
2. Do realize the legal consequences
You don’t want to break the law. Well without an appropriate email disclaimer, you risk doing just that. Just one email can damage your company’s reputation. This could be through libelous comments, confidential data leaks, copyright infringement, or accidentally transmitting a virus.
For example, registered limited companies in the UK must include the following in all emails:
Company registration number
A VAT number if required
The penalty for not doing so is a one-time fine of £1,000 and further daily fines of up to £100 until the offense is corrected. Countries within the European Union (EU) and North America have similar laws.
An email disclaimer also provides another level of legal protection for infringement of copyright or trademark notices. They are designed to protect companies over, so don’t think adding one isn’t important.
3. Do understand what is required in a disclaimer
An email disclaimer will include the company name, registered office address and company registration details.
For sensitive emails, add a confidentiality header that states for whom the message is intended for. This should appear at the top of the email, making it the first thing a recipient reads. Otherwise, the recipient has to read the email first, before being informed they were not supposed to.
4. Don't include everything
When people complain about email signatures, it’s usually about lengthy disclaimers. There is no need to use an email disclaimer akin to War & Peace.
Use a few lines and link to a longer version online if necessary. Only include information that protects your organization against liabilities.
5. Do add disclaimers to internal email
Internal email disclaimer text should be different from an external one. For instance, being liable for damages doesn’t really apply to internal emails. However, confidentiality and employer liability are important to disclaim against.
You can include a global disclaimer in every internal email or create departmental-based internal disclaimers. This highlights that internal emails are for employee consumption only. It’s important to note there have been lawsuits due to the internal circulation of offensive emails.
6. Don't think you won’t get punished for not having one
Few businesses love email disclaimers, but many have been hurt by ignoring them. You must ensure you’re up to date with any law changes and update your email disclaimer accordingly.
For example, you might start trading in a country with new legal requirements or offer a service that falls within a particular law’s remit. It’s important to be aware of all email disclaimer regulations for your industry and geographic region.
7. Do use different email disclaimers per department
It’s a good idea to include different email disclaimers for each department. Sales might highlight that quotes are valid for 30 days, while Finance would need an email disclaimer stressing confidentiality.
8. Don't add disclaimers to every email in a conversation
It’s easy for email disclaimers to flood a conversation with lots of text, to the point where it’s difficult to read the actual message's content.
So, place the email disclaimer apart from the rest of the signature. This way, the recipient sees your logo, contact details, and promotional elements before the disclaimer.
When you’re replying to someone, put the email signature below your message but the disclaimer at the bottom of the chain. This means it’s still in the message, so you’re legally compliant, but it’s in a location where it isn’t annoying.
9. Don't get caught out
With regulations like the Canadian Anti-Spam Law and the stiff penalties that can be levied against your organization, it’s better to prepare for all eventualities.
Create an email disclaimer specific to your organization and the country you are based in. Then strictly enforce this as standard company policy. You’ll be less likely to run into legal complications in the future.
10. Do choose a dedicated solution to do it for you
To enforce email disclaimers across your company, email signature software is invaluable. Current email environments like Office 365 (Microsoft 365) and Google Workspace don’t provide the automation needed for full email disclaimer compliance.
With central management, you ensure everyone uses a professional email signature with a legal disclaimer.