Time was when an email sig was limited to no more than five lines. Most email users would consider that an absolute maximum. Indeed the purist would endeavour to cram as much information into as little space as possible – the one liner being the ideal. Corporations, nervous about what their employees might say, demand their corporate disclaimer be attached to every outgoing email. Here are some typical email warnings, and how you might wish to interpret them.
We refuse to extend you the common courtesy of allowing you your own value judgements.
  • The information in this e-mail is confidential
We deny that email is open to pretty much anyone as it passes through systems over which we have no control. We can’t be bothered to get into encryption. If you take confidentiality rather more seriously than we do, eeeuuuuu – hark at you.
  • It should only be read by those persons to whom it is addressed.
Other actions upon it, such as vomiting, are discouraged. [I’m afraid the editor’s a bit of an ‘only’ nazi.]
  • It is not intended to be relied upon by any person without subsequent written confirmation of its contents.
We append this notice to every message we send, including such mentioned confirmations, so form your own conclusions about their efficacy.
  • The content of this e-mail is the personal view of the sender and does not represent the advice, views or opinion of our company.
Although this is all we really needed to say, we want to ensure our sig is far bigger than any message it follows.
  • Our company disclaims all responsibility and accepts no liability (including in negligence) for the consequences of any person acting, or refraining from acting, on such information prior to the receipt by those persons of subsequent written confirmation.
We concede not one iota that your statutory rights override anything we might claim in this regard.
  • In particular (but not by way of limitation) our company disclaims all responsibility and accepts no liability for any e-mails which are defamatory, offensive, racist or in any other way are in breach of any third party’s rights, including breach of confidence, privacy or other rights.
We’ve already said we won’t be held responsible for anything, we’re just rubbing it in.
  • If you have received this e-mail message in error, please notify me immediately by telephone.
Our misdirection problems are yours. We don’t care that you may have enough problems of your own and could do without ours. Nor will we tell you who we mean by ‘me’. We might mean the email sender, the manager of our email system, our company’s MD, or our ISP. We shan’t be more specific. We’re not even going to provide a phone number. We’d like you to spend a fortune on the phone before you get to the right ‘we’. And we do mean immediately, we don’t care if you have more urgent things to do.
  • Please also destroy and delete the message from your computer.
We won’t have you using it as evidence of our misdirection in legal proceedings.
  • Any form of reproduction, dissemination, copying, disclosure, modification, distribution and/or publication of this e-mail message is strictly prohibited.
Don’t include our sig in any reply to us or we’ll sue, although we’re not going to divulge who’s doing the prohibiting here.

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