the Irish for rights

Website disclaimers

Image of swimming pool, via SPATA websiteFollowing on from my comments about email disclaimers, via TJ and OUT-LAW.com here and here, I learn of the decision of the Court of Appeal in England and Wales in Patchett v Swimming Pool & Allied Trades Association Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 717 (15 July 2009) on the efficacy of website disclaimers. The plaintiffs asserted that they had suffered financial loss by relying on a mistaken statement on the defendants’ website, and the defendants countered that that clause on the site which urged visitors to the site to make further enquiries effectively disclaimed liability. In the Court of Appeal, Lord Clarke MR for the majority (Scott Baker LJ concurring, Smith LJ dissenting) held, at pargarph 39:

… I do not think that it can fairly be held that [the defendants] assumed a legal responsibility to the [plaintiffs] for the accuracy of the statements in the website without the further enquiry which the website itself urged.

And, in the next paragraph, he concluded:

When application was being made for permission to appeal it was suggested that special considerations apply to representations on websites. I do not think that the mere fact that the representations were contained on a website supports the conclusion that a duty of care is owed. As ever, all depends on the circumstances. Some websites are interactive and it may be possible, applying the principles outlined above, to conclude in particular circumstances that a duty is owed. However, I agree with the judge that that is not the case here.

So, website disclaimers can be effective in principle, but – as ever with the law – whether they are in any given situation will turn on the facts of the case. I supposed I’d better see to a disclaimer for this site then.

One Response to “Website disclaimers”

  1. hpl says:

    A remark as to e-mail disclaimers: a German law blogger pointed to a case where a lawyer lost because of his e-mail disclaimer. At issue before court was whether or not certain information had been provided to the plaintiff. The defendant maintained that the information had been provided by an e-mail sent on behalf of the defendant by its lawyer. The court (Landgericht Düsseldorf) held that the information in the e-mail could not be regarded as fulfilling the information requirement at issue because of the disclaimer, where the lawyer stated something to the effect that any information in this e-mail shall not be legally binding. So there’S a danger in using e-mail disclaimers a lawyer should be aware of!

    (Original source, in German: http://www.lawblog.de/index.php/archives/2008/08/04/e-mail-disclaimer-sorgt-fur-niederlage-vor-gericht/ )

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Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’m Eoin O’Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie – the Irish for rights.

“Cearta” really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

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