Last week a judge at the high court made the rare decision to use the social networking site Facebook to serve a claim. Lower courts have previously resorted to the use of social networking sites to serve suits but such methods have thus far not been resorted to by the higher courts.
British courts may be picking up on a trend that has already started in other parts of the world. Indeed, courts in Australia and New Zealand are known for using social networking sites to serve claims.
In the commercial law dispute Mr Justice Teare approved the request to use Facebook after the exact whereabouts of a one of the parties could not be ascertained.
Lawyer Jenni Jenkins, from the firm Memery Crystal, represents one of the parties to the case and said that using sites such as Facebook to serve claims was a predictable evolution. “It’s a fairly natural progression. A High Court judge 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.”
Jenkins said that the judge had granted the use of Facebook after being assured that the account in question was active. “The counsel told the judge that someone…had been monitoring the account and they’d seen that he’s recently added two new friends, which made the judge chuckle.”
Additional time has been given in order for the concerned party to respond to the claim in case the account is not checked regularly.
Courts are increasingly using modern technology. For example, the Crown Prosecution Service is looking to increase the use of computers in trials so that cumbersome court bundles will no longer be needed. Claims are traditionally served in hard copy but other methods have been resorted to on previous instances. For example, in December last year a judge used sms to file an injunction against the Occupy movement in London.
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