Published November 20, 2011
Tags: hearsay, herman cain, legalese
by Legal Lad
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain has dismissed allegations of sexual harassment as “hearsay.” It’s an effective line since we all know from television that hearsay is a big no-no. Why else would defense attorneys constantly jump to their feet barking “Objection, hearsay!”
The reality is that hearsay is a rule of evidence that has little to do with the accusations against Cain. The term “hearsay” is used in courtroom proceedings to describe any statement other than one made by a witness sitting in the witness stand in that very proceeding. To illustrate the rule, imagine a witness who testifies “I saw the defendant kill Mr. Smith.” That is perfectly acceptable evidence: the witness is describing what he saw with his own eyes, and the defense can cross-examine him. But….
Continue reading ‘Is Herman Cain the Victim of “Hearsay”?’
By Legal Lad
Two words: contractual liability. That refers to the situation where the email recipient thinks he has a contract with you, but you didn’t intend to form a contract at all. For example, you send an email to the local chimney sweep expressing interest in his services. He thinks you’ve already agreed to hire him, and the next thing you know, you’re trying to stop a guy in a top hat from climbing onto your roof. That’s why emails sometimes contain disclaimers to the effect that they are not intended to form a contract.
Is this email a binding contract? (via Inha Leex Hale/Flickr)
An email disclaimer can prevent a contract from being formed, but an email disclaimer does not create a contract with an unintended recipient. Contracts require a “meeting of the minds” – they cannot be dictated unilaterally.
One note of caution: A court in Scotland recently observed that a disclaimer saying that “nothing in this email constitutes a contract” applies only to the body of the email, not to any attachment. So you’ll want to be precise in wording any disclaimer.