A Peeve

24 10 2011

Dear folks who attach a confidentiality notice to the bottom of emails,

Hello! It’s me, reality. I realise you think you have established a legally binding contract by writing that bit of prose at the bottom of your email; the reality is – you have almost certainly have not. You see, the reality is, I don’t see your disclaimer until after I have begun the transaction (in this case, reading the email). In fact, since it’s usually the bottom most thing in an email, I haven’t seen the disclaimer until well after I have started reading the email. I certainly did not agree with you to not forward the email, or notify you if you made a mistake in sender, before I started reading (otherwise, chances are, I’d have opted out of reading the message). So we have this very lopsided contact – you can do what you want, and I can do nothing. You see the problem; maybe you’ve even heard of “unconscionable contracts”?

You might – and I stress, might – be protected if you’re discussing something which itself is protected. For instance – if I get an email from Dr. John Smith, MD, with a subject line of  “Test results”, then perhaps health privacy laws apply to contents of email. Ditto, perhaps, if John Smith, JD, Esq., emails with a subject like “My client confessed”. Of course, there is the problem of how I know to notify you without opening the email, which contains the contract, which automatically subjects me to your contract.

And that’s all assuming you’re in the same jurisdiction as I am! Which, statistically speaking, you’re not.

So, chances are, all you’re doing is sending useless bits. Again and again and again. And you should therefore consider whether it makes you seem like an ass to include a threatening clause that is not legally binding at the bottom of your email, instead of politely following up with, “I sent something to you in error; can you please delete your copy? Thanks.”

Very best regards,

Dear close friends and family who attach a confidentiality notice to the bottom of emails,

You are being asses. Stop it.

Very best regards,



Leave a comment

You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *