In a first for the UK, Facebook has been used as part of the process of forcing a debtor to pay up
An East Sussex solicitor has used Facebook to deliver a court order, in what industry observers believe is the first time the social networking site has been used in this way in the UK.
Solicitor Hilary Thorpe obtained permission from Hastings County Court to serve the order for a debtor to attend court for questioning, legal firm Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors said on Wednesday.
Conventional means exhausted
Thorpe said she had exhausted all conventional ways of trying to contact the defendant and showed that the defendant visited Facebook frequently in order to justify the use of the site.
Thorpe said she was inspired in part by a December 2008 Australian case, believed to be the first time Facebook was used to serve legal documents.
In that case Canberra lawyer Mark McCormack persuaded a court to allow him to use Facebook to deliver the documents after contact efforts via email and the post had failed.
At the time McCormack said he thought courts would continue to use Facebook as long as they were sure the message was reasonably likely to come to the attention of those involved.
The Pirate Bay
In June 2009, The Pirate Bay’s three founders were served with a court summons by BREIN (Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland) as part of an effort to shut down the site in the Netherlands.
“The internet works both for those who respect copyrights and those who violate them,” BREIN chief executive Tim Kuik told journalists at the time.
As Facebook has become an increasingly intimate part of people’s lives, it has been used in more unusual ways, including a recently announced partnership with the Samaritans designed to help prevent suicides.