Courts ‘like’ serving documents via social media.

29 January 2014 | Reading time: 2 minutes

Courts – the land that time forgot no more?

Social media may now have a more commercial significance for lawyers. Service of court documents in Australia has extended beyond traditional means such as in person or via post.

A landmark

In MKM Capital Pty Ltd v Corbo & Poyser, service of a default judgment on the Defendant was allowed to take place using Facebook. The ACT Court allowed the method of service after conventional methods had failed. The court was satisfied that:

  • The traditional methods of service were impracticable; and
  • The alternative method is reasonably likely to bring the documents to the Defendant’s attention

This outcome was a changing of the guard in terms of relying on traditional methods of service, especially when they are proven to be unsuccessful.

Not always the case

In Citigroup Pty Ltd v Weerakoon, the QLD District Court was not satisfied that the Social Media account was ‘with real force’ the Social Media Page of the person being served and not a falsified account. This could be the major drawback in obtaining service via a social media account.

Sticks and stones

In October of 2010, Victoria Police was able to serve a cyber bully via his Facebook inbox. The Defendant was a regular user and failed attempts to serve via traditional methods led to the attempts on his Facebook account. The issue was online bullying and harassment that, ironically, had occurred on Facebook. They were successful and ultimately the user took down the Social Media Page.

The future?

Don’t expect Facebook to become a common method of service, even in this technological age. In saying that, more and more instances of service via Social Media are appearing both here in Australia and abroad. It will be fascinating and significant to observe where the Courts are willing to extend the methods of service to adapt to contemporary technologies.