Are your email sign-offs breaking the law?

If you’re trading as a limited company, a limited liability partnership (LLP) or you are a member of a regulated profession, by law you must include certain information in your email sign off. And no, it isn?t ?sent from my iPhone??

Information required from companies

If you’re trading through a company or an LLP, you must include the following information on ALL business communications, including e-mails:

  • Your company?s registered name
  • The part of the UK in which your company is registered, for example, England and Wales
  • Your company?s registered number
  • Your company?s registered office address

Information required from members of regulated professions

If you are a member of a regulated profession (such as a financial services company or a solicitor) you must also provide:

  • The details of any professional body or similar institution with which you are registered
  • Your professional title and the member state where that title has been awarded
  • A reference (ideally through a hyperlink) to the professional rules applicable to you. If you can?t add a hyperlink, you must explain how such professional rules can be accessed

Should you include a confidentiality notice?

You will have probably have seen this type of notice on the bottom of emails:

This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. Any dissemination, distribution, copying or use of this communication without prior permission of the addressee is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient you have received this email in error. Please accept our apologies, notify the sender on the above address, and then delete all copies of this email.

Most people place these notices at the bottom of emails. However, if you do this, it’s doubtful whether such a notice would be effective as the reader will only see the notice once they have read the email and therefore can?t have agreed to the terms before they read the email.?

In order to increase the chances of the notice being effective it should appear at the top of your email and should not be generated automatically but only added to particularly sensitive emails.

Should I include a disclaimer?

You may also have seen this type of thing at the bottom of emails:

Please note that X Limited cannot accept any responsibility for viruses and it is your responsibility to scan or otherwise check this email and any attachments.

Again, it’s not clear that such a disclaimer would be effective. As a general rule, the broader the disclaimer, the less likely it is to be effective. A general disclaimer that excludes all liability for losses resulting from reliance on anything contained in an email is unlikely to be enforceable.

Saying all that though, on balance, it is still worth adding in confidentiality notices and disclaimers at the bottom of your email.

Suzanne Dibble is an award-winning business lawyer, demystifying business law for small business through her website Lawyers4Mumpreneurs.

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