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Email disclaimer laws in the United Kingdom

Continuing our look at email disclaimer laws around the world, today we are looking at the United Kingdom. Earlier this year, disclaimers became a newsworthy topic when a UK MP, Sir Alan Duncan, called for the end to adding reams of text to the bottom of all emails.  The full version of Sir Alan Duncan’s speech can be read here.

To see some examples of email disclaimers that are common in the UK, click here.

Financial Services Act 2012

The Financial Services Act was passed to consolidate the regulatory authority of numerous agencies in the United Kingdom. The FSA (Financial Services Authority), which had previously been given broad powers to regulate the financial industry, was replaced with two new regulators, namely the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, which created the Financial Policy Committee of the Bank of England. This framework went into effect on April 1 2013.

The purpose of the amended Act is to restructure and broaden the law relating to market manipulation, misleading statements and impressions as well as modernize the financial regulation that failed to protect the UK economy from the fallout of the 2008 recession. Whilst the Act itself is not specific with regard to email retention, there is some guidance in relation to records retention. For example, in relation to guidance on Money Laundering, records relating to transactions, reports and “information not acted on” must be retained for a period of 5 years.

The need for an Archiver
Financial organizations need to review their compliance in relation to email. Given the need to retain records for varying numbers of years, a dedicated email archive store is required to ensure that that these requirements are met.

Further information

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act gives anyone the right to request information from a government organization (including central and local government, the health sector, police and armed forces, the education sector and other public bodies), about any subject that they are interested in. However, the Act does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. The Act also does not give people access to their own personal data (information about themselves) such as their health records or credit reference file.

The need for an Archiver
It is clear that organizations reliant upon existing email technology will not be able to adequately meet the SAR (Subject Access Requests) in a timely and cost-effective manner. A centralized email archive store will address all these issues, ensuring that those covered by the FOI can meet their obligations.

Further information

UK Companies Act 1985

The Companies Act of 1985 is an important part of UK company law that governs various aspects of the registration and management of companies.

Every company must keep accounting records which sufficiently show and explain the company’s transactions that (a) disclose with reasonable accuracy, at any time, the financial position of the company at that time, and (b) enable the directors to ensure that any balance sheet and profit and loss account prepared under this Part complies with the requirements of this Act. A company’s accounting records shall be kept at its registered office or such other place as the directors think fit, and shall at all times be open to inspection by the company’s officers. From the date on which the record is made, private companies must retain this information for 3 years and public companies must retain it for 6 years.

The need for an Archiver
Email is a prime medium for exchange and storage of company records. Storage in the mail-server does not protect against falsification, nor does it protect against accidental loss or malicious removal. A purpose built email archive system will ensure that relevant data can be maintained for the desired retention period and maintain integrity of the records through tamper-proof mechanisms. Furthermore, the system will provide easy search access to recover data if required by an external auditor.

Further information

UK Companies Act 2006 (amended 2007)

In addition to the requirements of the UK Companies Act 1985, every company has to list its company registration number, place of registration and registered office address on its website and any electronic communication. This is due to an update to the 1985 legislation and came into effect on 1 January, 2007.

The need for Email Disclaimers
If your business is a private or public limited company or a Limited Liability Partnership, the Companies Act 1985 requires all of your business emails (and your letterhead and order forms) to include the following details in legible characters:

  • Your company registration number.
  • Your place of registration (e.g. Scotland or England & Wales).
  • Your registered office address.

This information also has to appear on a company’s website. Failure to comply with these requirements puts a company at risk of a fine of up to £1,000.

Example footer

Green Organisation is a limited company registered in England and Wales.
Registered number: 5464771.
Registered office: Green House, 21 Bloom Street, London, WC1 1AA.

Further information

As with Canada and the United States, email disclaimers in the United Kingdom are required whether companies feel that they need them or not. If you are a UK based company, to ensure that you are fully compliant with current legislation, a comprehensive email disclaimer and dedicated email archiving solution will mean that you are never breaking the law.