Email Disclaimers: A Waste of Internet Space?

by Mike Mintz on February 2, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ethics

The other day an article ran in the Wall Street Journal discussing the disclaimers many of us include in our emails but that almost none of us read. Entitled, “Warning: if the email you just read isn’t for you, don’t read it”, by Dionne Searcey and Michael Rothfeld, it is an amusing article and also thought provoking. Significant questions came to mind after reading the article.

How binding, if at all, are the disclaimers we automatically include in our email messages? Do the disclaimers protect you or only protect your peace of mind? Do you have a legitimate reason to feel inferior or inadequate if you don’t include disclaimers in your emails?

Last year the Economist ran an article entitled “Spare us the e-mail yada yada.” That article intimated that such disclaimers are legally useless. A quick search did not turn up a plethora of cases in answer to those questions, but one is of interest. In one of the Barbie Doll cases, Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entm’t, Inc., CV 04-9049 DOC RNBX (C.D. Cal. Sept. 22, 2010), the court stated in an order to partially compel production of communications between MGA executives and their company attorneys, that an email beginning with the phrase ‚ÄúPRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL ATTORNEY-CLIENT COMMUNICATION‚ÄĚ may not, without more, trigger the protections of the attorney-client privilege. That is food for thought.

Please note that this post does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you received this blog in error, please don’t read it.

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