Service of documents via Facebook
This week the High Court gave permission for a Claimant in a commercial dispute to serve proceedings on an individual Defendant via Facebook. A County Court has previously allowed service of Court papers in this way but this is the first time such a senior Court has allowed it.
Service of claim documents and other court papers are strictly governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (“the CPR”) to ensure that parties are fairly made aware of any claims against them in an appropriate and timely way. For example, service is permitted under the CPR by first class post, fax or personal service. It is also possible to serve on a solicitor instructed to accept service on behalf of a party. Where it appears to the Court that there are reasons to authorise service by a method other than permitted expressly in the CPR, it may make an order accordingly.
This particular case is a £1.3 million claim brought by investment managers against their broker and two employees in relation to commission paid. The service point is in respect of one of the individual employee defendants. The Claimants served the papers at the individual’s last known address and also applied to Court to allow service by Facebook as there was some uncertainty as to whether he still lived at the address.
There was evidence to suggest that the Facebook account was checked regularly and the Court permitted service to take place in this way.
This is an important development as this may become a more common way of serving Court papers, although an application to the Court will always have to be made in each individual case to request permission to serve in this way and the Court will have to make a decision on whether it is appropriate in each instance. However, it may offer some assistance to Claimants where the Defendant is seemingly untraceable.
If you would like any more information about this, please contact Emma Hayward.