Service of Court Documents via Social Networking Websites by Alica Bradford – Attwood Marshall Lawyers
Tuesday, 29th March, 2011 - Business and Commercial, Dispute Resolution and Commercial Litigation, Equine Influenza Class Action, Family Law and Divorce, General, Personal Injury/Insurance Litigation, Property Law, Residential Conveyancing, Telecommunications Class Action, Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney
It appears that Australian courts are beginning to recognise social networking sites as a practical way of communication.
MKM Capital Pty Ltd v Corbo & Poyser (Unreported, ACT Supreme Court, Master Harper, 12 December 2008)
The defendants failed to keep up with repayments on a loan owing to MKM Capital Pty Ltd (“MKM”). The defendants did not make an appearance at the hearing, and MKM obtained default judgement for the value of the loan amount and possession of the defendant’s house. Despite numerous attempts at personal service, MKM were unable to serve the default judgement notice on the defendants.
MKM applied to the court applied to the court for an order for substituted service. Rule 6560(3) of the Court Procedures Rules 2006(ACT) provides that a court can make such order if it is satisfied that:
- it is impracticable, for any reason, for the document to be served in the authorised way; and
- the alternative way is reasonably likely to bring the document to the attention of the person to be served.
MKM submitted that it was impractical that service be effected in the authorised way and that an alternative way of service via Facebook would bring the documents to the defendants’ attention. MKM led evidence that:-
- the dates of birth and email addresses displayed on the Facebook profiles matched the 2 defendants; and
- the ‘friend’ list on the Facebook profiles showed that each of the 2 defendants were friends with the other.
On the basis of this evidence the court found that it was reasonably likely that the document would be brought to the defendants’ attention and ordered substituted service of the default judgement be effected by sending a private message to the defendant’s Facebook page informing the entry and the terms of the notice.
Citigroup Pty Ltd v Weerakoon QDC 174
In an earlier decision, the Queensland District Court reached a decision that Facebook was not a suitable method of serving court documents. The reasons for that decision were:-
- the uncertainty of the Facebook page;
- the fact that anyone can create an identity that could mimic the true person’s identity; and
- the court not being satisfied that the person who created the Facebook page was indeed
- the defendant.
First Writ Served on Twitter – British High Court
On 1 October 2009 the British High Court ordered its first injunction via Twitter, stating the social website and micro-blogging service was the best way to reach an anonymous “Tweeter” who had been impersonating the Donal Blaney on the micro blogging site, Twitter.
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