Residents of the U.K. can serve legal briefs via Facebook, according to a landmark ruling from the country’s High Court today.
This blog has already reported on the use of Facebook to serve court papers and summons in countries like Australia, New Zealand and to a limited degree in the U.K.
But the ruling today is the first time the social networking site has been approved at such a high level in the British justice system.
According to the U.K. newspaper, The Telegraph, the court approved the use of Facebook in a commercial case where there were difficulties locating one of the parties.
One of the lawyers in the case, Jenni Jenkins, told the newspaper that the High Court’s ruling sets a precedent and makes it likely that Facebook will be used more routinely in serving legal documents:
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.
Among the lessons learned from this case is this: Be careful who you befriend on Facebook if you are wanted by the law. When there was doubt whether the defendant still lived at his last known home address, the attorneys turned to Facebook to track him down. And, after seeing the defendant accept a few recent friend requests, the law knew they had the right account. Busted!< The U.S. hasn’t explored the use of Facebook to the degree the U.K. and other countries have.
I wonder whether the size of the U.S., where Facebook’s largest user base is located, might be prohibitive; or, whether approving Facebook’s use by the U.S. courts would overwhelm an already crowded judicial system.
Readers, what do you think?