What is a Disclaimer? The purpose of a disclaimer is to let your client or customer know in very clear terms what their responsibility is and what is not your responsibility. Let’s face it. There are some people who do some very silly things. Things you would not expect. The Darwin Awards are full of them! You do not want to be legally responsible for the actions of other people that you could not possibly predict, and even those actions that you might predict.
It is not possible to disclaim all legal liability because there are certain obligations implied into contracts. In Commonwealth countries those obligations were originally common law (law of common practice recognized by the courts) and are now included in legislation.
A disclaimer needs to be written clearly and acknowledged by the customer or client.
Disclaimers written in small font and hidden in documents are generally not effective.
You need to be able to demonstrate that your disclaimer was brought to the attention of the customer or client and that they have acknowledged having read it and agreed to the terms. We know that not everyone reads them, so you need a process which makes it the clients obligation to explain why they didn’t if they didn’t.
You might be familiar with the tick boxes for online forms (booking flights online is a good example) where you cannot proceed without ticking the box, and next to the tick box it says “I have read and accept the airline’s Terms and Conditions”.
What’s the strangest disclaimer that you have ever read?
goldmark.org lists the following entertaining email disclaimer:
“This message represents the official view of the voices in my head.”
Here is one I found on enf.org, but they don’t claim copyright… it is a collection of disclaimer snippets mish mashed together, some of which could be useful if properly put together.
“This product is meant for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Void where prohibited. Some assembly required. List each check separately by bank number. Batteries not included. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Postage will be paid by addressee. Subject to approval. This is not an offer to sell securities. Apply only to affected area. May be too intense for some viewers. Do not stamp. Use other side for additional listings. For recreational use only. Do not disturb. All models over 18 years of age. If condition persists, consult your physician. No user-serviceable parts inside. Freshest if eaten before date on carton. Subject to change without notice. Times approximate. Simulated picture. No postage necessary if mailed in the United States. Breaking seal constitutes acceptance of agreement. For off-road use only. As seen on TV. One size fits all. Many suitcases look alike. Contains a substantial amount of non-tobacco ingredients. Colors may, in time, fade. We have sent the forms which seem to be right for you. Slippery when wet. For office use only. Not affiliated with the American Red Cross. Drop in any mailbox. Edited for television. Keep cool; process promptly. Post office will not deliver without postage. List was current at time of printing. Return to sender, no forwarding order on file, unable to forward. Not responsible for direct, indirect, incidental or consequential damages resulting from any defect, error or failure to perform. At participating locations only. Not the Beatles. Penalty for private use. See label for sequence. Substantial penalty for early withdrawal. Do not write below this line. Falling rock. Lost ticket pays maximum rate. Your cancelled check is your receipt. Add toner. Place stamp here. Avoid contact with skin. Sanitized for your protection. Be sure each item is properly endorsed. Sign here without admitting guilt. Slightly higher west of the Mississippi. Employees and their families are not eligible. Beware of dog. Contestants have been briefed on some questions before the show. Limited time offer, call now to insure prompt delivery. You must be present to win. No passes accepted for this engagement. No purchase necessary. Processed at location stamped in code at top of carton. Shading within a garment may occur. Use only in well-ventilated area. Keep away from fire or flame. Replace with same type. Approved for veterans. Booths for two or more. Check here if tax deductible. Some equipment shown is optional. Price does not include taxes. No Canadian coins. Not recommended for children. Prerecorded for this time zone. Reproduction strictly prohibited. No solicitors. No alcohol, dogs, or horses. No anchovies unless otherwise specified. Restaurant package, not for resale. List at least two alternate dates. First pull up, then pull down. Call toll free before digging. Driver does not carry cash. Some of the trademarks mentioned in this product appear for identification purposes only. Record additional transactions on back of previous stub. Decision of judges is final.
This supersedes all previous notices.”