Because of the inherent dangers and ease in transmission and receipt of e-mail, messages that contain sensitive or confidential information should include a clear notice if the transmission reaches an unintended party. However, do such disclaimers provide any protection?
The unintended recipient is not obligated to refrain from reading, deleting or otherwise taking actions as directed by an e-mail disclaimer. However, the fact that the e-mail carries such a request might cause the person to do as directed anyway. These types of disclaimers may also be useful in identifying information that your company considers confidential -- which may be subject to confidentiality obligations with certain parties. If confidential information in an e-mail were disclosed in violation of a nondisclosure obligation, the disclaimer would be evidence that the information was considered confidential by your company and was subject to the nondisclosure agreement.