High Court Ruling Permits Court Summons Via Facebook

UK judge sets precedent by allowing high court legal claims to be served through social networking site

A UK high court judge has permitted the serving of legal summons through Facebook according to a report from The Telegraph.

Mr Justice Teare ruled that TFS Derivatives, an investment broker, could use the social network to summon one its employees to court after a claim to a home address went unanswered.

Embracing social networks

Using social networks in legal matters is not entirely unprecedented in the UK. Last year, Hastings County Court granted solicitor Hilary Thorpe consent to use Facebook to summon a debtor to court for questioning. “It is great to see that the Courts are willing to embrace new technology,” Ms Thorpe said in a statement last year.

The Telegraph also reports that in 2009 Mr Justice Lewison granted an injunction against a defendant who could only be identified through his Twitter profile. Today’s ruling, however, is the first at the high court level and could open doors to further via-Facebook summons in the future.

“It’s a fairly natural progression. A high court judges 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,” Jenni Jenkins, a lawyer for one of the parties involved in today’s case, told The Telegraph.

Mr Justice Teare’s decision to allow TFS Derivatives to serve a claim to Fabio de Biase via Facebook came after the broker stated that their employee may have moved home but was still active on the social network and had recently accepted friend requests. The precedent set out by the judge therefore would require a party to be unable to locate a defendant, thus necessitating contact through a social network.

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