legal notices at the end of emails

Robert Bonomi bonomi at
Wed Jul 27 21:15:50 UTC 2011

> From: Ryan Coleman <editor at>
> Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 08:33:53 -0500
> Subject: Re: legal notices at the end of emails
> > --
> > Jerry
> >
> > This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and 
> > intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which they 
> > are addressed. If you are not the intended recipient of this 
> > transmission, please delete it immediately.
> >
> > Obviously, I am the idiot who sent it to you by mistake. Furthermore, 
> > there is no way I can force you to delete it. Worse, by the time you 
> > have reached this disclaimer you have all ready read the document. 
> > Telling you to forget it would seem absurd. In any event, I have no 
> > legal right to force you to take any action upon this email anyway.
> >
> > This entire disclaimer is just a waste of everyone's time and 
> > bandwidth. Therefore, let us just forget the whole thing and enjoy a 
> > cold beer instead.
> > _________________
> Nice disclaimer. :)
> They have their place.

Yup.  That place is frequently referred to as "File 13".

>                        CPAs, Bankers, mortgage, transferring of sensitive 
> data, etc. But they really mean nothing. :)

To be 'legally binding' on the recipient, one must have _agreement_ on the
terms from the recipient, _before_ the 'sensitive' material is sent to them.

In _most_ jurisdictions in Western (at least!) jurisprudince, such embedeed
'disclaimers' are entirely _unenforceable_ against an 'unintended' recipient,
being what is commonly known as a "contract of adhesion", and, as such, fail
to satisfy one of the fundamental requirirements of a 'contract' -- i.e., a
"meeting of the minds" between the parties to the contract.

Such 'disclaimers' -- with the notable exception of ones similar to Jerry's,
that is -- are nothing more than a (probably ineffective) CYA attempt by
the originator's organization in the event of an actual erroneous disclosure
of 'confidential' information. 

_IF_ such a 'notice' were an enforcable 'contract', consider what the effect
of the following notice:

   By accepting this email, you agree to pay me US$5,000 within 10 days. And
   if you fail to tender said sum within the specified time-frame, authorize
   me to enter a 'confession of judgement' in your name, in a collection 

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