Surprise, E-mail Signature Disclaimers are Legally Meaningless

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Somewhere, the e-mail gods just smiled upon us all. Those annoyingly long e-mail signatures companies often use as a disclaimer don’t mean anything in court. In fact, they don’t mean anything at all, except for the fact that someone really wants to aggravate you with a “legal notice” that takes up two lengthy paragraphs.

Part of working life, legal experts say that no court case has ever been determined by the absence (or appearance) of an e-mail footer in the U.S. Seriously? The Economist goes on to elaborate:

“Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable. This is clear in Europe, where a directive from the European Commission tells the courts to strike out any unreasonable contractual obligation on a consumer if he has not freely negotiated it. And a footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal.”

So basically, the deal is that someone, somewhere thought it would be really neat to write a little notice appended to an e-mail message. Someone saw it, thought it was super gravy, and jumped on the turkey boat. The point is that company lawyers ask employees to use them because they see other people using them, and it’s somehow become ingrained in corporate life.

Most people have probably trained themselves to ignore them, but at the end of the day, those most effective e-mails are the ones that are short and sweet.

(via the Economist)

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