8 Email Disclaimer Examples I Love (For Your Inspiration)

How to Write Email Confidentiality Disclaimers: 10 Examples and Best Practices for 2024

Email remains the lifeblood of business communications. Over 376 billion business and consumer emails are sent and received each day according to Statista. However, with so much sensitive information flowing through inboxes, it‘s critical that companies take steps to protect confidential data.

That‘s where email confidentiality disclaimers come in. These legal notices alert recipients that an email may contain private information and instruct them on proper handling. When written well, confidentiality notices can limit a company‘s liability in the event of a data breach or compliance violation.

In this guide, we‘ll take an in-depth look at email confidentiality disclaimers. You‘ll see 10 real-world examples, learn best practices from legal experts, and get tips for implementing effective notices in your own email program.

Jump to:

  • What is an email confidentiality disclaimer?
  • When to use confidentiality notices
  • 10 confidentiality disclaimer examples
  • How to write a confidentiality notice
  • Best practices from legal experts
  • Simplifying email compliance

What Is an Email Confidentiality Disclaimer?
An email confidentiality disclaimer is a statement notifying recipients that the contents of the message may be confidential. It instructs them not to share the information with unauthorized parties.

Confidentiality notices typically appear in the email signature for messages sent by individuals or in the footer of marketing emails. They are considered a best practice in industries that routinely share sensitive data over email such as healthcare, financial services, and legal services. However, any company can benefit from confidentiality disclaimers as part of a comprehensive data protection strategy.

Here is an example of a simple confidentiality notice:
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email contains confidential information intended only for the recipient(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from disclosing, copying, or distributing this email. Please notify the sender immediately and delete this message.

When to Use an Email Confidentiality Disclaimer
As a rule of thumb, include a confidentiality notice in emails that discuss non-public information about your company, employees, clients, or business partners. Many companies choose to add disclaimers to all external emails as a precautionary measure.

Scenarios where confidentiality notices are most important:

  • Sharing financial data, contracts, or business plans
  • Sending personal information like social security numbers or medical details
  • Attorney-client communications
  • Discussions of trade secrets or intellectual property
  • Emailing databases or spreadsheets with sensitive fields

Work with your legal counsel to determine exactly when disclaimers are needed. Consistent usage of confidentiality notices demonstrates a commitment to data protection.

10 Email Confidentiality Disclaimer Examples
Now let‘s look at how companies across different industries handle email confidentiality notices. These real-world examples from 2024 show a range of approaches.

  1. Basic Notice – Keep it simple with a short, one-paragraph disclaimer like this example from a technology company:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information contained in this email message is confidential and intended only for the private use of the recipient(s) named above. If you have received this email in error, please delete it immediately.

  1. Detailed Instructions – For highly sensitive emails, more specific handling instructions may be warranted. Here‘s an example from a financial services firm:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual(s) named. No one else may disclose, copy, forward, distribute, or retain this message or any part of it. If received in error, please delete all copies and notify the sender immediately by replying to this email. Email transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secure.

  1. Two-Way Confidentiality – This notice from a consulting company emphasizes that both the sender and recipient are obligated to maintain confidentiality:

CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT: The contents of this email message and any attachments are confidential and are intended solely for the addressee(s). The information may also be privileged or otherwise protected by contract or legal rules. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, disclosure, copying, or distribution is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it.

  1. Indemnity Clause – Some disclaimers outline consequences for unauthorized disclosure. This strongly-worded example is from a law firm:

IMPORTANT CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email and any attachments are confidential and protected by legal privilege. Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited and may be unlawful. Violators may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. If you are not the intended recipient(s), please delete this email and notify the sender immediately.

  1. Compliance Framework – Companies may cite specific privacy regulations in their notice. Here‘s an example referencing Europe‘s GDPR rules:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this email and any attachments is confidential, may be privileged, and is for the intended recipient(s) only. Unauthorized disclosure or use is strictly prohibited and may violate applicable laws including GDPR. If you receive this email in error, please delete it and inform the sender promptly.

  1. Non-Binding Notice – Sometimes it‘s prudent to clarify that an email is not a formal agreement. This example is from an insurance provider:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: This email message and any attachments are for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, or distribution is prohibited. Nothing in this email constitutes a binding offer, contract, or policy change. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and destroy all copies.

  1. Medical Confidentiality – Healthcare organizations are bound by strict patient privacy rules. This hospital‘s notice cites the HIPAA regulation:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information protected by federal and state law, including HIPAA. It is intended only for the use of the person(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination or copying is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please immediately notify the sender by telephone and permanently delete this email.

  1. Company-Wide Notice – For consistency, some companies use a standardized disclaimer on all employee emails like this one:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication and any attachments are confidential, may be privileged, and are meant solely for the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately and delete this message. Any unauthorized disclosure is strictly prohibited.

  1. Encrypted Email Notice – Confidential emails should always be encrypted, as noted in this example:

SECURE AND CONFIDENTIAL: This email has been encrypted for your security. The contents are intended solely for the recipient(s) and may contain confidential or privileged information. Do not share this message without permission. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete it and notify the sender. Any other use is prohibited.

  1. All-In-One Footer – Many companies include their confidentiality notice alongside other required email disclosures:

Phoenix Enterprises
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information in this email is confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this message immediately. Any disclosure or use of its contents is prohibited.

DISCLAIMER: This email is not a binding offer or contract. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

UNSUBSCRIBE: To opt-out of our email list, click here. We respect your privacy. View our full Privacy Policy.

As these examples show, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to confidentiality notices. The key is to convey the confidential nature of the email and instruct recipients on proper handling. When in doubt, consult your legal counsel.

How to Write an Effective Email Confidentiality Disclaimer
So what goes into a well-crafted confidentiality notice? At minimum, it should contain these elements:

  1. A statement that the email is confidential
  2. Identification of the intended recipient(s)
  3. Instructions on what to do if received in error
  4. A warning against unauthorized disclosure or use

Many notices go a step further by citing specific regulations, outlining consequences for violations, or clarifying that the email is non-binding. The goal is to be as clear and comprehensive as possible while still being concise.

Scott Shafer, a partner at the law firm Winterspring & Spalding, recommends this formula for effective confidentiality notices:

"Start with a one-sentence ‘confidential‘ statement to grab the recipient‘s attention. Then spell out precisely what they can and can‘t do with the information using active language. Note any legal regulations that apply. Finally, give them a course of action if they aren‘t the intended recipient – usually to notify the sender and delete the message."

When drafting your disclaimer, get input from stakeholders in legal, compliance, HR, and executive leadership. Where appropriate, cite the specific laws and company policies that relate to email confidentiality.

"The disclaimer should use language consistent with your company‘s broader data protection and acceptable use policies," says Lindsey Patel, senior counsel at Axis Communications. "Think of it as an extension of your overall compliance program."

Once you‘ve drafted your notice, ask a layperson to read it and summarize the key points. If they can‘t quickly grasp the confidential nature of the email, it‘s probably too dense with legalese. Try to strike a balance between precision and clarity.

Email Confidentiality Best Practices from Legal Experts
In addition to crafting a strong confidentiality notice, there are other steps companies can take to protect sensitive email content. We asked corporate attorneys and compliance officers to share their top tips:

Use an email encryption tool to prevent unauthorized access to confidential messages. "Unencrypted email is inherently vulnerable to interception," notes Scott Shafer. "Encryption should be the default for any confidential data."

Include confidentiality notices on all messages by default. "It‘s better to overcommunicate than to leave sensitive content exposed," says Lindsey Patel. "We include a notice on every email that originates from our domain."

Provide employees with clear acceptable use guidelines for email. "Your policies should spell out what information can be shared over email and with whom," advises Mike Chen, IT director at SolarMax. "Employees need ongoing training on proper email hygiene."

Secure mobile devices used for business email. "In a BYOD environment, it‘s critical that employee devices are password-protected and can be remotely wiped if lost or stolen," says Patel.

Perform regular access reviews to ensure only authorized personnel can view sensitive email content. "At least quarterly, audit who has access to systems and mailboxes containing confidential info," recommends Chen. "Immediately cut off access for leavers."

Implement a data classification system. "Categorize your business data based on sensitivity and apply controls accordingly," suggests Shafer. "Emails containing regulated or mission-critical data need the highest safeguards."

Conduct periodic employee training. "Data protection and privacy compliance need to be ingrained in your company culture," says Patel. "Interactive training keeps it at the forefront and reduces risky behaviors."

Have an incident response plan. "Despite your best efforts, confidential emails will occasionally end up in the wrong hands," notes Chen. "Have a plan in place to quickly investigate, contain, and remediate any breaches."

Simplifying Email Compliance
Given the growing volume and complexity of global data protection regulations, email compliance can seem overwhelming. But companies can‘t afford to be lax. A single misdirected email can lead to costly fines, lawsuits, and reputational damage.

Email confidentiality disclaimers are an important layer of protection, signaling to recipients that the information is sensitive. When combined with strong policies, technical controls, and employee training, notices are a proven way to mitigate risks.

The examples and best practices in this guide can help you implement effective confidentiality notices – without a legal degree. Start with a clear, concise disclaimer and build out your email compliance program over time. Your legal counsel, IT department, and compliance team can provide guidance specific to your industry and regulatory environment.

Ultimately, email security relies on a combination of people, processes, and technology. By taking a holistic approach anchored in well-crafted confidentiality notices, companies can harness the power of email while safeguarding their most valuable data assets.