ILRI Email Disclaimer


Email Disclaimers

An email disclaimer is a statement that is pre-pended or appended to email messages that states the Institute’s position concerning the content of the message and what can be done with it. The disclaimer statement approved for use by the Management Committee is:

Why use an email disclaimer?Email is inherently an insecure form of communication. Once sent, you loose control over what happens to the message, the recipient can forward the message to anyone else and messages can be easily intercepted. The individual sending a message has complete control over the content of the message and who they send the message to. This has led to several high profile lawsuits with multi-million dollar penalties concerning the contents of corporate emails. For an organisation, adding an email disclaimer to messages provides a level of legal protection from libellous content and misuse of email messages by employees or the recipients. The legal threats that emails expose an organisation to include:

  • Accidental or deliberate breach of confidentiality

  • Negligent misstatement

  • Entering into contracts 

  • Transmission of viruses
  • Employer's liability

Be aware that a disclaimer can act as a deterrent that stops some individuals or organisations from taking legal action in the first place. However, if legal action is taken then the disclaimer will reduce the responsibility of the Institute but it cannot fully protect the Institute from any offences that have occurred.
When to use an email disclaimer?It is generally accepted as good practice to add an email disclaimer to all email messages, both internal and external. However, if the email system is configured to add the disclaimer automatically this can lead to some contradictions between the message content and the disclaimer. Many of the regional staff use email provided by their hosts or through the CGIAR managed email service hosted by CGNET where the disclaimer cannot be added automatically. Senior management has therefore decided that staff should include the disclaimer as part of their email signature. The disclaimer should be added manually to all external or internal email messages when:

  1. the message contains confidential information;

  2. the message content provides advice;
  3. the message contains official documents or information from the Institute, especially when agreements are being discussed;

  4. you do not want the message forwarded to any other recipients.

In the case of point 4, it is recommended that you edit the disclaimer statement and add the name(s) of the intended recipient(s) to replace the text “the addressee”.How to add an email disclaimer from Outlook?
Outlook 2007


  • On the Tools menu, click Options

  • From the Options window, select the Mail Format tab
  • Click on the Signatures button

  • From the Signatures and Stationary window, either highlight one of the existing signatures to edit or click New to create a new signature. (See Figure 1 below)

Outlook 2003


  • On the Tools menu, click Options

  • From the Options window, select the Mail Format tab
  • Click  on the Signatures button at the bottom

  • From the Create Signature window, either highlight an existing signature (and click Edit) to edit or click New to create a new signature.

Detailed instrutions on adding the disclaimers and disclaimer templates for different ILRI offices