Thursday, 8 June 2017

Boiler plate text on emails

You would think solicitors know better...

You are prohibited from reading this message unless and until you have read and agreed to the ****** Solicitors communication terms, which are deemed incorporated in this message.

Yes, that is right, you have to read (part of) the message to get to the bit telling you that you are prohibited from reading the message.

In order not to be prohibited you have to read and agree the terms which are incorporated in the message which you are prohibited from reading. So even if you consider that boiler plate text not to be part of the message, the terms are explicated stated as being incorporated in the message, the one you are prohibited from reading.

So to agree to the terms and not be prohibited from reading the message you absolutely have to have broken those terms already and ignored a prohibition.

AFAIK there is no way to "prohibit someone from reading a message". Even copyright law does not cover that, i.e. they have no "right" to prohibit reading a message and there is no consequence for ignoring their made up prohibition.

I cannot see how you could be deemed to have accepted their terms either, given that you have to ignore them in order to read and accept them in the first place.

Why do they do it?

11 comments:

  1. Because they majored in law, not logic and are terrified of being hoist on the petard of beached client confidentiality.

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  2. Not to mention these disclaimers always appear at the bottom of the emails, so assuming you do read them you've already read the full message anyway!

    Maybe they all secretly want to be 007, and it's lawyer speak for "For your eyes only"

    On a serious note though, I wonder if it would even hold up in court? "You breached my client confidentiality", "Yes I sent it to someone else, but I attached a note to the bottom of it telling them not to read it"

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  3. These things are totally unenforceable anyway. If I have sent you an email in error, then that is exactly what I have done. You can't be prohibited from doing whatever you want with it. IANAL.

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  4. 99% of lawyers give the others a bad name :(

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    Replies
    1. Is Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking perhaps relevant here Neil?

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    2. Is Thorton v Shoe Lane Parking relevant here Neil?

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    3. Goodness knows - as Adrian shows, it needs unpicking on several levels to try and make sense of the situation.

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    4. My layman's guess is that it's not relevant - Thornton v SLP had you take action in accordance with the contract terms posted before they applied, whereas reading and forwarding without permission, and doing nothing else, does not have you acting in accordance with the posted terms.

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  5. For some reason, it brings to mind the old joke about the sign in the park saying "do not throw stones at this notice", that same level of stupidity

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    Replies
    1. A Google image search for "do not throw stones at this notice" throws up some beauts.

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  6. Some emails carry dire warnings and instructions on what to do "if you are not the intended recipient"

    Clearly, in one interpretation, if it's in your mailbox you ARE the intended recipient.

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