A lawyer has used Facebook to serve a court summons, in what experts claim is the first case of its kind in the UK.
Solicitor Hilary Thorpe claims she had exhausted all conventional methods of trying to contact a debtor on behalf of a client, before recalling a case in which the Supreme Court in Australia gave a lawyer permission to use Facebook to serve legal documents.
Ms Thorpe, who is an insolvency and directors disqualifications specialist for Eastbourne firm Gaby Hardwicke, asked staff at Hastings County Court in East Sussex to consider the same principle.
They accepted and last week she logged onto Facebook to serve the court order. Thorpe said: ‘It is great to see that the courts are willing to embrace new technology.
‘We have had great trouble serving the debtor in question. Being able to use Facebook to do so will certainly assist in the case and allow our client creditor the possibility of obtaining further information to enforce the debt.’
It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out because serving proceedings on someone via Facebook is not proof they’ve been actually served. It’s dubious, but if successful would suggest there’s no reason why a court summons can’t be served via email also.
I can see the benefits, but also see lots of reasons for an appeal as there are numerous data protection issues here.
There’s no proof of service so switched on lawyers will say their client hasn’t been served or more than one person could be accessing the account and deleting emails maliciously.
Obviously, this is an example of the monolithic growth Facebook has experienced over the past five years; it’s unavoidable and permeates every part of our lives.
This is simply a sign of the times, but I think the idea will be beset with problems.