Here’s a poser, folks. When you get an email from anyone at Greenwich Council, it comes pre-loaded with the following disclaimer, no matter how inoffensive the content of the missive concerned:
This message is for the named person’s use only. It may contain confidential, proprietary or legally privileged information. No confidentiality or privilege is waived or lost by any mistransmission. If you receive this message in error, please immediately delete it and all copies of it from your system, destroy any hard copies of it and notify the sender. You must not, directly or indirectly, use, disclose, distribute, print, or copy any part of this message if you are not the intended recipient. Greenwich Council reserves the right to monitor all e-mail communications through its networks, in accordance with legislation.
Greenwich Council has scanned this e-mail for viruses but does not accept any responsibility once this e-mail has been transmitted. You should scan attachments (if any) for viruses.
Greenwich Council can be contacted by telephone on +44 (0) 20 8854 8888
Now, of course this isn’t just Greenwich Council. It’s increasingly tagged onto pretty much any form of electronic mail, mainly from companies who, if they had nothing to hide, might not consider it worth their while to do so.
So. My question is this. Since this message has been tacked onto the end of the email, and the agreement of the person to whom it is addressed to enter into such an arrangement has not been either sought or obtained, just how much clout does it have? After all, the terms of reading this email have not been agreed before the addressee has read them, so why should they take any notice of them? Why shouldn’t they just pass on the contents if they feel they are relevant?
I would be grateful for opinions – both professional and lay – on this increasingly invasive piece of legal add-on to the humble email format.