Social media risks course by Bowman Gilfillan

Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group’s employment law team specialising in social media law is holding a seminar aimed at business leaders on the implications, risks, legislation and strategies around social media use for business. The seminar will be held on 1 and 2 August 2016 at the firm’s Sandton offices.

Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group Employment Partner, Ros Davey, will facilitate the seminar along with Lenja Dahms-Jansen and Alan Wright, both senior associates at the firm. The seminar will focus on issues such as constitutional and common law rights, specifically the rights to dignity, privacy and freedom of expression when using social media. Hate speech and the incitement to commit violence, as well as racism, will also be covered. In addition, the Law of Defamation, the legislative framework around social media, as well as employer and employee liability will be under discussion. The team will share foreign case law concerning important social media judgments and will also discuss intellectual property and copyright issues.

The seminar will also train delegates on how to protect their business interests. This will cover brand damage, protecting price sensitive information and the role of the Financial Markets Act. Enforcing fiduciary duties and duties of good faith, protecting confidential information and trade secrets, ownership of social media pages, platforms, content, followers and likes, restraints of trade, unlawful competition, foreign jurisdictions and cancelling a contract in the face of social media outcry will form part of the seminar.

The employment law framework around social media will be discussed in detail. This will include the essentials for a contract of employment, the duties of employers and employees when it comes to social media, the grounds for termination, dismissals for social media misconduct, lessons from the cases, and cases of off duty misconduct.

In addition, protected disclosures, the impact of social media on strikes, unfair dismissals, and remedies, as well as the admissibility of social media posts as evidence and the cases around this will also be covered. The final section of the seminar will cover how to mitigate the risks of social media via strategy, policy, training and enforcement.

Davey notes, “We identified a need for a detailed training session on this subject after seeing the recent impact that social media use has had on employment relationships and the risk to businesses in general. This seminar is designed for business leaders, HR managers, marketing teams and in-house legal counsel. It offers a high level look at the many implications and aspects of social media use and also details how to mitigate these risks with the correct strategy, policies and procedures.”

Davey explains, “Before the advent of social media nasty, insulting and socially unacceptable thoughts and views were not as easily spread to the public in general and the hurt caused by such thoughts and views was not so wide spread. Now, however, such posts provide news headlines on a frequent basis and the fall-out from an ill-advised post can be life changing for the person concerned, and extremely damaging for any brand associated with that person.

“These are just some of the dangers that all too often spill over into the employment arena and affect employment relationships and business reputations. It is thus essential for companies to take appropriate steps to anticipate and address social media blunders so as to protect their rights and interests, as well as the rights and interests of their employees, clients, suppliers, and customers”.

Davey adds that it is not enough to implement a social media policy and hope for the best. A comprehensive social media strategy is needed. This strategy should set out how the company plans to use social media for business purposes but needs to go further and set out an action plan on how best to address the maelstrom that may be created by unacceptable online comments or opinions posted by employees, that backlash on the employer.

These issues and more will be addressed in the extensive two-day training seminar. The course is priced at ZAR 5000 excluding VAT. If you would like to attend this seminar, please contact Colleen Hulscher at Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group on


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