Judge allows service via Facebook

Following a ruling in the High Court yesterday, Facebook can now be used to serve legal claims in Britain.

Routinely used to serve claims in Australia and New Zealand, Facebook has been used previously to effect service in Britain but this is the first time that such acts have received High Court approval.

In March of last year, Sussex-based lawyer Hilary Thorpe became the first person in the UK to serve a court summons via Facebook when she encountered difficulties in getting a debtor to attend court to answer questions about their finances.

In this most recent case, however, Mr Justice Teare allowed Facebook to be used during a pre-trial hearing in a commercial case in which difficulties had been encountered in locating one of the parties.

This ruling represents the latest development in the growing use of social networking media within the legal world.

The Supreme Court announced recently that it would be updating its followers using Twitter (see our news item “Supreme Court to Tweet”) whilst in December the Lord Chief Justice gave the go ahead for reporters, journalists and legal commentators to send text-based messages using laptops and mobile devices from court (see “LCJ gives go-ahead for court tweeting”).

Also in December, a British judge made headlines for filing an injunction against London-based protesters from the Occupy movement via text message and in 2009, Mr Justice Lewison allowed an injunction to be served via Twitter in a case where the defendant was only known by his Twitter-handle and could not easily be identified another way.

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