News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
24 May 2017
5:29 am

Facebook war between two sports agents leads to court

Ilse de Lange

Judge Elizabeth Kubushi yesterday ordered the sports agent to remove the posts, failing which the sheriff of the court was authorised to do so.

A war of words on Facebook between two well-known sports agents has resulted in a costly high court battle in Pretoria.

Attorney Gert van der Merwe, who has represented overseas-based Springbok rugby players such as Francois Hougaard and Vincent Koch, took In Touch Sports manager James Adams to court after Adams allegedly maligned him in comments posted on SARugbymag’s Facebook page.

Judge Elizabeth Kubushi yesterday ordered Adams to remove the posts, failing which the sheriff of the court was authorised to do so.

She also granted a punitive costs order against Adams. Adams posted the comments, in which he lashed out at Van der Merwe as a “rogue agent” and called him “Mr Bullshitter”, after the magazine published an article quoting Van der Merwe on the “talent drain” in rugby.

Van der Merwe was in 2015 found guilty of breaching the South African Rugby Union (Saru) agent code of conduct and given a R5 000 suspended fine when Adams complained about him contacting Sharks lock Ruan Botha – who was under contract with Adams – behind his back.

In March last year, Adams laid a second complaint against Van der Merwe, alleging that he had lied to Saru when he obtained accreditation as a player agent.

The disciplinary hearing did not proceed after Van der Merwe abandoned his accreditation as a player agent and informed the union that he would represent his clients as an attorney.

Van der Merwe said in court papers he was admitted as an advocate in 2010 and as an attorney in 2014, and there was no merit in Adams’ complaints against him.

He said he was “shocked, perturbed, humiliated, offended, hurt, aggrieved, mortified and upset” when he read Adams’ comments on Facebook in which Adams accused him of lying about his qualifications and being “struck off” Saru’s agent list.

When he in turn warned Adams that his comments were defamatory, Adams described Van der Merwe as “Mr Bullshitter”.


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