We appear to be steadily moving closer to the day when process serving over social media becomes common practice, as it already is in Australia and New Zealand.
In the US, a court gave permission in March for the Federal Trade Commission to serve documents on five India-based defendants through email and Facebook.
Here in the UK, the High Court gave legal firm Memery Crystal permission to serve a High Court order via Facebook in February 2012. This followed a similar ruling in March 2011 for the County Court and permission to serve an injunction via Twitter in 2009.
The Tribunals and Courts Act 2007 – part 3 is still not yet fully enacted, but is likely to be during 2014 – allows for Notice of Enforcement to be served by “fax or other electronic means”. While this almost certainly just meant email at the time the legislation was first drafted, this would clear the way for more widespread service via social media.
There are many cases when defendants appear to “fall off the radar” in their attempts to avoid any part of the legal process. Sometimes, social media is the only place they can be found and it is relatively straight forward to find out how actively it is being used. Depending on privacy settings, you can also often find out where the person is – we have been able to disprove “I’m not in the country” claims by checking on social media.
Social media is becoming main stream in business – as a communications tool, for marketing and customer service, market research and recruitment, to name just a few. This is only likely to increase and as systems continue to develop which allow organisations to analyse increasingly large volumes of data from multiple sources (the imaginatively named “big data”), more formal and official interactions with individuals are going to take place within social media.
Provided the process server has clear guidelines and procedures, then we could well end up using social media to reach defendants we could not otherwise access.
Article supplied by Bowling & Co Solicitors www.bowlinglaw.co.uk/
This article is based on the information from an article written by David Carter of The Sheriffs Office www.thesheriffsoffice.com