Service of Process through Facebook or Twitter???
A curious piece of news published yesterday in Opinio Iuris by Julian Ku:
Legal claims can now be served via Facebook in Britain, after a landmark ruling in the English High Court.
Mr Justice Teare gave the go-ahead for the social networking site to be used in a commercial case where there were difficulties locating one of the parties.
Facebook is routinely used to serve claims in Australia and New Zealand, and has been used a handful of times in Britain. However, this is the first time it has been approved at such a high level.
Jenni Jenkins, a lawyer at Memery Crystal, which is representing one of the parties in the case said the ruling set a precedent and made it likely that service-via-Facebook would become routine.
“It’s a fairly natural progression. A High Court judges has already ruled that an injunction can be served via Twitter, so it’s a hop, skip and a jump away from that to allow claims to be served via Facebook,” she said.
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.
Usually, when you have a huge problem finding somebody for the purposes of service of process, then you have no chance of enforcing the judgement later. So I wonder: what’s the point?
It should also be remembered that Facebook sometimes arbitrarily closes a user’s account, like in this (my) example: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/life-after-facebook/ – Many unread e-mails may have been in that inbox which will be eternally lost for me.
The point is the plaintiff and his right to due process. Yes, enforcement is usually difficult or impossible: but you don’t know it for sure at the stage of service of process.
As for your second comment: I guess this is a case in which the defendant would be protected because service failed for circunstances beyond his control.
What I think is that allowance of service through this channels is meant to discourage defendants from hiding, that’s all.