Receive our newsletter

By registering you agree to enable user authentication cookies to be stored on your PC. For more information please read our Privacy & Cookies policy statement.
Mailing Lists:
Hatch Legal Newsletter
The ‘clickable logo’ on this website is a mandatory requirement of our regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority. It contains embedded software taking you to an SRA-hosted page which confirms that we are regulated and outlines what protections this regulated status provides. The SRA has stated that it does not have access, record or store any additional data such as IP addresses or page navigation behaviour, and that it does not collect data that would identify an individual. A solicitor specialising in technology is reported as saying that the system’s design involves the processing of data by technology supplier Yoshki, and does not ask users to give their consent. Yoshki’s system is based in turn on technology developed by Google which, he says, ‘is in the business of harvesting personal data’. Hatch Legal does not accept liability for use of the SRA clickable logo.
E-mails and working on-line PDF Print E-mail
Businesses and other organisations face a number of legal traps when using the internet.    The employer can be held responsible for comments posted on blogs or social networking sites by one of its employees  – even if the member of staff is using their own computer in their own time!  This checklist identifies some of the main risks and suggests what you can do to reduce them.


This checklist highlights the risks that your organisation and your employees should be aware of when using the internet or sending e-mails and gives some practical suggestions of how to minimise those risks.

Reputational risks

Information that is written on the internet or in e-mails can seriously damage your organisation’s reputation and the reputation of individual employees. Your employees could lose their job, be sued or face criminal charges and your organisation could be sued or fined.   

Stop and think before you click

·          Writing something on the internet or in an e-mail is exactly the same as writing on paper and, because of the lack of control of who might ultimately see it, sometimes worse. Your organisation cannot control what the recipient does with an e-mail.

·          Inappropriate information that is written online or in an e-mail can have severe financial repercussions for your organisation. It can also create serious personal and disciplinary issues for individual employees.

·          Even if your employees are e-mailing or using social media in their own time, they could still get themselves and your organisation in serious trouble.

E-mails and internet postings can be used in legal proceedings

·          E-mails and internet postings can be used against your organisation in legal proceedings or other regulatory investigations and you may have a legal obligation to disclose them to the other party, even if it is not already aware of them.

·          Your organisation should never delete e-mails relating to:

o    a legal dispute;

o    an investigation; or

o    a potential dispute or investigation.

It is very difficult to delete e-mails and online postings

Simply deleting e-mails or internet postings will not necessarily solve the problem. Forensic IT equipment can still find supposedly “deleted” messages.

Do not be hurtful or spread rumours

·          Online content or e-mails that could be thought of as obscene, racist, sexist, bullying or hurtful should never be posted or sent. Your organisation can be held liable for discriminatory acts committed by your employees.

·          If a comment is made about another employee online or in an e-mail that amounts to harassment, your organisation could be liable even if the employee was using their own equipment when they made the comment.

·          Exaggerating or making false or inaccurate statements about another company or person online or in an e-mail could lead to your organisation being sued, even if the e-mail was only sent to one person.

Take care with confidential information

·          Where possible, avoid sending confidential information by e-mail. Your organisation should take legal advice on how the information can be best protected.

·          Any e-mail containing confidential information should be clearly marked as “confidential”.

·          If your organisation receives an e-mail that contains “dangerous” material (for example, another company’s trade secrets), you should take legal advice immediately. 

Do not make a contract by mistake

·          A legally binding contract can be made by a simple exchange of e-mails.

·          Your organisation should make it clear if it does not intend to be bound by what is communicated in an e-mail.

Do not copy someone else’s work

·          Other people’s work should not be used in e-mails or online posts unless:

o    your organisation has permission from the original author; or

o    you know that it is not protected by copyright.

Do not send or view offensive or unknown material

·          Encourage your employees to carefully monitor what arrives in their inbox, especially if they do not recognise the sender or the title of the e-mail seems peculiar.

·          If there is a risk that an e-mail may contain a virus, it should not be opened and your IT department should be contacted immediately.

·          Make your employees aware that they could be disciplined or even dismissed for forwarding inappropriate e-mails or accessing inappropriate websites at work. In severe cases it could also be a criminal offence.

Avoid unproductive usage

·          Most organisationes allow light personal internet and e-mail usage as long as it does not interfere with their employees’ duties. However, you should make sure your employees are aware that excessive, unproductive use of the internet and e-mails at work may be treated as gross misconduct for which they could be dismissed.

·          E-mails can often be a waste of time and other resources. Encourage your employees to think carefully before copying someone in on an e-mail, especially if there is a long chain of e-mails attached.

More information

If you have any questions about this checklist, please contact Hilary Crook: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Hatch Legal 1 Sella Bank, The Banks, Seascale CA20 1QU                                                             Telephone:  0194 672 1715

Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority—SRA number 463163
 Law Society number 166086
VAT number 898 292 456
© 2010 Hatch Legal. All rights reserved