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Practice Tips - Email footers

15th Jul 2005
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It’s a legal requirement that all the correspondence issued by a business should carry its full contact and ownership details. Most practices get this right on their headed note paper, but how many do on their emails?

Adding a footer to an email is easy. If you use a Microsoft product (Outlook or Outlook Express) just look up “signatures” in the help index and all you’ll need to know I there. I expect it’s the same if you’re using other mail systems too.

But what to say is as important. Basically that’s what is on your headed notepaper, for starters. So, you must give an address. And you must provide details of the company name and number and where registered, and so on, if you’re a limited company.

And then you might want to add two other things. First of all, consider a disclaimer. Mine says “This message is intended only for the person or persons to whom it is addressed. It may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient of this message you are requested to destroy it immediately. Unauthorised use of this communication and its attachments is prohibited. If you receive this mail in error, please telephone us.” I’m not sure anyone would really go to court about this, but I tend to think that such a note might put some people off abusing what they might have received in error.

The second thing is a reminder to the client (if that is who the recipient is) that what they’re getting is part of the normal service of your firm. Again, my footer says “When addressed to our clients any opinions or advice contained within this communication are subject to the terms and conditions expressed in the governing Fulcrum client engagement letter.” My belief is that this is of real use. No one who has got a mail with that on it can think that such communication is anything but a chargeable part of the firm’s supply of services. And that has to be useful.

It’s my suspicion that Practice Assurance inspectors might look at this sort of thing, just as they’ve always obsessed about firm’s headed note paper. I reckon it’s worth getting there first.

Richard Murphy
AccountingWEB contributing editor Richard Murphy is a sole practitioner chartered accountant but was previously senior partner of a firm for 11 years. He has also been chairman, chief executive or finance director of 10 SMEs. A collection of previous articles by Richard on practice management themes is available in Practice Management Zone



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