Legal boilerplate appended to email

It probably isn’t accomplishing much: “Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries.” [The Economist; & note comments that take issue with the above assertion, and also point out the uses of such footers in pre-trial discovery]


  • Yes, but what about signatures with tag lines on blog comments?

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • Agreed. It is silly and we don’t do it.

  • It is, however, sucking up electricity. And this post reminds me: when are we going to repeal HIPPA?

  • Funny thing is, this started because lawyers had disclaimers at the bottom of faxes they send….

  • Boilerplate alerts the litigation document reviewers to withold the document (even if it’s not necessarily legally correct to do so). It takes the thinking out of the process, and allows for a greater possibility that documents which would be damaging will be pulled from discovery. So, dumbs it down and helps you cheat-ish the system a bit. Sounds like law to me.

  • I read them whenever I get a new one, mostly for comic relief.
    Many of them are so blatantly absurd to IT staff you just have to chuckle at the ignorance about electronic communications and the internet of many of the people who write them.

    Like footers that state that electronic storage of the message is not allowed, when having the message sitting on a mailserver waiting for delivery is electronic storage.
    I’ve even seen footers claiming that “transmission over unsecured networks is not allowed” on emails I received over the internet (which is of course wholly unsecure).

  • p.s. by reading this message you agree to be bound by all conditions set out in this disclaimer

    another of the nonsense statements shot down by the EU and I think other countries as well.

  • My favorite part is after the boilerplate legal footnotes accumulate at the bottom of an email during an exchange, filling up an extra page or two of that junk, some of my associates still like to add another footnote, reminding us to ‘consider the environment when printing this email.’

  • The disclaimers are, for the most part, largely useless, especially when (a) used indiscriminately and (c) in the in-house/corporate counsel context.

    I am, however, certain that it is not true that “no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America” since I worked on a multi-billion dollar patent case in which the court (later affirmed by the Fed. Cir.) kept out of evidence key — some might saying damning — e-mails of willful infringement largely because of the disclaimers. Specifically (and vaguely), the court found that unlike in most cases, where disclaimer language in e-mails between in-house/corporate counsel and a company is irrelevant since every e-mail is indiscriminately marked as privileged regardless of subject matter (a sort of Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus approach), the e-mails in my case, although they seemed prima facie to concern the sort of business matters not typically covered by privileged, had clearly been distinguished with a judicious use of disclaimer language from somewhat similar communications that were deemed not privileged.

    And yes, the disclaimer is often done for the benefit of the wage donkeys, er, doc review attorneys, as well as for general record keeping.