Those irritating tails...

March 15, 2013

We all receive them…emails with some text, and then a long, pompous, legal-sounding warning at the tail-end of the message. We’ve learnt to ignore them, by and large, but, once in a while….

Recently, on a mail list to which I belong, someone had sent an email. It was from the organization this person belonged to, and it came with this coda:

“Confidentiality Notice: This email is confidential and may also be privileged. You should not copy the email or disclose its contents to any other person as it is solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. If you have received this message in error, please contact the sender on XXXXXXX and delete this message from your computer. Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be timely, secure, error- or virus-free. General Statement: Any statements made, or intentions expressed in this communication may not necessarily reflect the view of YY . Be advised that no content herein may be held binding upon YY or any associate or any associated companies unless confirmed by the issuance of a formal contractual document.”

To this, one of the moderators of the egroup replied:

“The confidentiality notice would be irrelevant, inappropriate, and against the principles and ethos of a discussion forum. Moreover, since it is a voluntary posting to a pre-existing discussion forum, such conditions are inapplicable. Even if such emails are recieved in error, there can be no demand for the receiver to incur expenditure, effort, etc to inform a private number on phone. This might please be noted and taken as informed that mails to the egroup will be copied and will be shared. There is no implicit or explicit acceptance of the conditions put forward unilaterally on unsolicited material.”


Wiki entry about Email

does not even mention “coda” messages or disclaimers such as these, but informs me,

“Liability. Statements made in an email can be deemed legally binding and be used against a party in a court of law.”

So…what is the actual situation? Are these blocks of “Grr-don’t-come-near-me-I-will-bite” text legal? Should they be attached to every mail one sends, regardless of whom one is sending to (in the above context, it was certainly not applicable, and should not have been included.) Why do organizations promptly erect walls of legalese in impenetrable thickets, to hide behind, whether they are right…or not?

Should I tack on a confidentiality notice to this post?