Disclaimer: Definition, Uses and Examples

waiverAuthor: Ian Aldridge, Progressive Legal


A disclaimer is a critical tool for businesses seeking to navigate legal landscapes and mitigate potential risks. From high-stakes industries to everyday businesses, the strategic use of disclaimers proves indispensable in shaping clear boundaries, fostering client awareness, and ultimately safeguarding enterprises from unforeseen legal challenges.

On this page, we’ll discuss the intricate layers of disclaimers, shedding light on their meaning, effectively drafting them, and crucially consider various areas of risk.

Need a tailored disclaimer?

We can draft disclaimers for a fixed fee $750 + GST, fully tailored for your business. Your disclaimers will be drafted by a qualified commercial lawyer.

What is a disclaimer?

A disclaimer is a statement that denies legal responsibility. Its pivotal role for businesses lies in significantly reducing, and at times, eliminating legal risk. Without these cautionary statements, businesses could find themselves held liable for damages.

Though disclaimers surround us daily, embedded in documents like Terms and Conditions or Client Engagement Agreements, they often operate inconspicuously. Their purpose? To spotlight circumstances where:

  1. Your business is not accountable.
  2. Clients or customers bear sole responsibility.
  3. A third party holds responsibility.
  4. Providing context for services, subsequently limiting your business’ liability.

How do you draft an effective disclaimer?

Disclaimers may seem straightforward to draft, but in reality, there’s more to consider when tailoring them for your business. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the detail.”

At its core, a disclaimer serves a fundamental purpose – it aims to limit certain aspects of a contract, legal rights, or liabilities that consumers, clients, or customers might otherwise assume. The goal? To ensure clarity and avoid claims of ignorance, even if the information was glaringly highlighted.

Visualising disclaimers

When picturing a disclaimer, think of those brief sentences at the end of TV ads stating “terms and conditions apply” or clarifying that “services do not constitute professional advice.” They’re the quick disclaimers at the start of informative YouTube videos, especially those addressing health issues.

Even a stroll through a car park reveals disclaimers like “We are not responsible for any stolen property from parked cars.” These examples, often concise due to display constraints, are just the tip of the disclaimer iceberg.

Short vs. comprehensive

While brief disclaimers suffice for mediums with limited space, comprehensive documents like your business’s Terms and Conditions or Client Engagement Agreement demand more. Here, disclaimers play a pivotal role, addressing every area of potential risk and minimising business liability.

Disclaimers in contracts

Incorporating disclaimers in contracts, explicitly stating that one party makes no representation or warranty about the completeness or accuracy of information, is common. However, the effectiveness of a disclaimer hinges on proving that no misleading representation was made.

Consideration of areas of risk

When drafting disclaimers, it’s imperative to analyse and address all potential areas of risk associated with your business. Some industries inherently attract more risk, demanding more comprehensive disclaimers.

Tailoring to industry risk

Is your business situated in an industry with heightened risk factors? Industries like healthcare, including health practitioners and alternative health practitioners, adventure sports, or financial advisory services, demand more detailed disclaimers. Recognising the unique risks tied to these sectors prompts the need for in-depth disclaimers.

Universal risk considerations

However, every business, regardless of its nature, contends with some level of risk. This universal truth emphasises the necessity for comprehensive disclaimers that shield your business and curtail liability.

Crafting comprehensive disclaimers

Crafting disclaimers goes beyond a mere formality – it’s about protecting your business. In certain instances, a few paragraphs might be necessary to effectively disclaim against key legal risks. The goal is clarity; disclaimers should be explicit, bringing potential issues into sharp focus.

Enforcing legal rights

Here’s a crucial principle: unless you’ve clearly outlined and brought attention to your disclaimers before a customer makes a purchase, enforcing a legal right becomes challenging. Black-and-white clarity is key to ensuring that your disclaimers hold weight and mitigate risks effectively.

Examples of disclaimers

Disclaimers are best illustrated by examples. 

Some common examples of disclaimer templates are as follows, however we strongly recommend having your disclaimers reviewed by a lawyer to make sure they’re tailored for your business: 

1. No Comprehensive Guarantees

“We do not make any terms, guarantees, warranties, representations, or conditions regarding our products and services, except as provided for pursuant to this Agreement.”

2. Results Disclaimer

“We cannot and do not guarantee your ability to obtain specific results in connection with our products and services.”

3. No Professional Advice

“None of the information provided to you by us in the supply or in connection with our services is intended to offer legal, financial, business, information technology, or any other professional advice.”

4. Disclaimer of Representations

“We expressly disclaim any claims arising from representations, whether express or implied, or reliance upon any representations made regarding our recommendations or information supplied to you.”

5. Testimonials and Examples Clarification

“Any testimonials or examples of our products and services, whether published online or in print, are not to be taken as a guarantee that you will achieve the same or similar results.”

6. Results Variability Acknowledgment

“Results may vary from one business or customer to another, dependent on various circumstances such as the specific industry, market timing, product or service offerings, and applicable pricing.”

These examples serve as valuable tools to draw attention to aspects for which the business will not be held liable, considering the nature of the goods or services provided. However, it is crucial to tailor these templates with the guidance of a legal professional to ensure alignment with your business’s specific nuances and legal requirements.

This tailored approach guarantees clarity, compliance, and effective risk management for your business. Request our expert advice below for tailored disclaimers.

How is a disclaimer used in advertising?

In product advertising, the strategic use of disclaimers or qualifications is a common practice to convey specific conditions or restrictions associated with the offered products and services. The legalities surrounding the effectiveness of disclaimers in advertisements is highlighted in key court cases.

In the landmark case of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v TPG Internet Pty Ltd [2013] HCA 54, the court emphasised a crucial test applied when employing disclaimers – evaluating the likely impression formed by an ordinary and reasonable consumer after comprehensively viewing the entire advertisement.

The effectiveness of a disclaimer hinges on its integration into the overall impression or dominant message conveyed to the customer.

Furthermore, in Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited v Cassidy [2004] FCAFC 35, it was underscored that disclaimers, when accompanied by asterisks, must be clear and prominently displayed to prevent potential misleading or deceptive implications in advertisements.

The importance of tailoring disclaimers to the specific form of advertising used was also highlighted in Australian Competition & Consumer Commission v Target Australia Pty Ltd [2001] FCA 1326. For instance, in television advertisements, disclaimers are recommended to occupy a substantial amount of space and time on the screen, conveyed loudly and clearly through voiceovers, ensuring transparency and compliance with legal standards.

Understanding these nuances is crucial for businesses aiming to strike the right balance between effective communication and legal compliance in their advertising endeavors.

How is a disclaimer used in email?

Email disclaimers emerge as invaluable safeguards, adept at mitigating the risks associated with the inadvertent disclosure of confidential information to unintended third parties. Acting as a proactive warning mechanism, these disclaimers set clear expectations for recipients not designated as the intended audience.

In the event of accidental receipt, the disclaimer mandates specific actions, such as immediate notification and the permanent deletion of the email from their systems.

Beyond mere caution, email disclaimers serve the critical function of alerting recipients to the copyrighted nature of the email and its contents, along with the potential application of legal professional privilege and confidentiality. This multifaceted approach reinforces the sensitive nature of the communication, fostering a culture of respect for privacy and legal boundaries.

Given the ever-present threat of computer viruses transmitted via email, a well-drafted disclaimer is essential. While assuring the use of anti-virus software, the disclaimer acknowledges that it cannot unconditionally warrant an error or virus-free email transmission.

This cautious stance helps limit liability in the event of accidental virus transmission, providing a transparent framework for communication security.

What are disclaimer limitations?

It’s important to understand that not everything can be disclaimed. A crucial point to underscore in any disclaimer is that it does not curtail or exclude guarantees, warranties, representations, or conditions mandated by law.

This encompasses the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), making it explicit that certain legal obligations cannot be circumvented. In essence, one cannot “contract out of” legal obligations, including those safeguarding against one’s own negligence.

Australian Consumer Law

Under the umbrella of the ACL, customers possess specific rights, and goods and services come with implied consumer guarantees that stand immune to exclusion through disclaimers or any other means. These guarantees assure consumers of product quality, safety, and fitness for purpose, and for services, they ensure acceptable care, skill, and timely delivery.

Breaching these consumer guarantees empowers the customer to seek remedies, including product refunds, repairs, replacements, or service cancellations.

Businesses must tread carefully, avoiding misrepresentation of consumer guarantee rights. Instances like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Bunavit Pty Ltd [2016] FCA 6 serve as stark reminders. In this case, a Harvey Norman franchisee, Bunavit Pty Ltd, faced substantial penalties for misleading representations that attempted to exclude consumer guarantee rights.


When it comes to negligence, a critical distinction exists. While it’s impossible to exclude or limit liability for death or personal injury resulting from a business’s negligence, there are scenarios where liability for other forms of loss or damage, such as financial loss or property damage, can be limited.

Understanding the intricate interplay of legal obligations, consumer rights, and liability limitations is paramount. Drafting disclaimers that align with these legal nuances necessitates precision and a tailored approach.

Key takeaways

Drafting well-detailed disclaimers is essential for effective risk management. Businesses strategically place disclaimers in various legal documents to minimise risks.

It’s essential to understand that, even with disclaimers, negligence leading to death or personal injury cannot be excluded. Small business owners should not underestimate the importance of clear disclaimers in avoiding disputes.

To ensure your disclaimers align with the law and offer maximum protection, consider our expert advice at Progressive Legal. Well-drafted disclaimers are an investment in protecting your business from potential legal challenges. Contact our experienced commercial lawyers today at 1800 820 083 for assistance with your disclaimers.

Need a tailored disclaimer?

We can draft disclaimers for a fixed fee $750 + GST, fully tailored for your business. Your disclaimers will be drafted by a qualified commercial lawyer.

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