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Business emails and the law

There are certain legal obligations you need to be aware of. Find them out here.

By understanding email and the law you can hopefully save your business money and avoid legal problems. This guide does not constitute legal advice. Legislation is constantly changing and the Business IT Guide can only present legal information at its highest level. It is therefore strongly recommended that you seek the help of qualified legal advice to deal with your specific situation.

Email disclaimers

Many of us have received emails that have a disclaimer at the bottom of the page. These disclaimers are often very “legal” sounding and are designed to protect the sender from legal action. The reality is that the courts will probably not uphold the disclaimer but it might help your case.

Most disclaimers cover breaches of confidentiality, propagation of viruses, contractual claims and employee liability. Some disclaimers seem to go on for ever!

Disclaimer Example 1

IMPORTANT: This message is intended for the addressee only and may contain private and confidential information or material which may be privileged. If this message has come to you in error you must delete it immediately and should not copy it or show it to any other person.

Disclaimer Example 2

This email is sent on behalf of XXXX and its associated companies (“XXX”) and is strictly confidential and intended solely for the addressee(s).  If you are not the intended recipient of this email you must: (i) not disclose, copy or distribute its contents to any other person nor use its contents in any way or you may be acting unlawfully;  (ii) contact XXX immediately on XXXX quoting the name of the sender and the addressee then delete it from your system. XXX has taken reasonable precautions to ensure that no viruses are contained in this email, but does not accept any responsibility once this email has been transmitted.  You should scan attachments (if any) for viruses. XXX. Registered in England no.XXX  -  Registered Office(s): XXX

What you must provide on an email footer

If your small business is a private or public limited company or a Limited Liability Partnership, the Companies Act 1985 requires all of your business emails to include the following:

  • Company registration number;
  • Place of registration (e.g. Scotland or England & Wales); and
  • Registered office address

Apparently we have needed to do this for a number of years but there was some doubt so many people didn’t bother. The Companies Act 1985 was enacted on 1st January 2007 and stated that all business emails must now contain this data. If you are a sole trader then the requirement does not apply.

Footer Example:

Smallbutgettingbigger is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 1234567. Registered office: The High House, 72 Claire Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT21 5JU

Monitoring email traffic

As an employer you are able to monitor email traffic to and from your business. You can do this to ensure security and to protect your business. If you do monitor emails then you need to let people know.

A typical statement would be: Smallbutgettingbigger Ltd may monitor email traffic data and also the content of email for the purposes of security and staff training The specific monitoring of employee emails is subject to a raft of legislation out of the scope of this article. Again, if this is an issue for you then take legal advice or you may find yourself in hot water with the authorities.   Further advice on email law

We suggest that you contact a qualified legal advisor if you believe that your particular position may need specific advice or assistance. The following links may also help you:

OutLaw

Take Legal Advice

Source: Email and the law 

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