safe harbor [English]

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ A legal provision that allows for certain actions without risk of liability or penalty.

General Notes

A safe harbor provision can place boundaries on application of a necessarily vague standard by establishing foreseeable cases intended to be acceptable while leaving other cases to the discretion of a judge.

Other Definitions

  • Black's 9th 2009 (†382 ): 1. An area or means of protection. – 2. A provision (as in a statute or regulation) that afford protection from liability or penalty.


  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. "safe harbor (law)"): A provision of a statute or a regulation that specifies that certain conduct will be deemed not to violate a given rule. It is usually found in connection with a vaguer, overall standard. By contrast, "unsafe harbors" describe conduct that will be deemed to violate the rule. ¶ Safe harbors have been promoted by legal writers as reducing the uncertainty created by simply employing a vague standard (such as "recklessness"). On the other hand, this type of rule formulation also avoids the problem of creating a precise rule that leaves a judge with no available discretion to allow for "hard cases." In theory, the safe harbor formulation can combine the virtues of vague standards and precise rules, allowing legislatures to prescribe with certainty the advance outcome for specific foreseeable cases, and to leave to judges to decide the cases that remain. (†2658)
  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. "International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles"): The International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles or Safe Harbour Privacy Principles were principles developed between 1998 and 2000 in order to prevent private organizations within the European Union or United States which store customer data from accidentally disclosing or losing personal information. They were overturned on October 6, 2015 by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which enabled some US companies to comply with privacy laws protecting European Union and Swiss citizens. (†2659)