Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't go on Facebook you might lose your home!

Well admittedly the title of this post is somewhat sensationalist but it does have merits. I'm pretty sure all practitioners out there have at some point been frustrated by an inability to serve documents on a person who they know are still around. Lawyers in the Oz have solved this problem by serving court papers via Facebook! IP Freely recalls being told a story of a firm sending a bill via Myspace but service of court documents is something else entirely.

Basically in this case (reported in Times Law) a couple had defaulted on their mortgage repayments (sounds familiar) so the lendor obtained a default judgement for the loan amount, unfortunately the lawyers involved then found that the couple had disapeered and so could not serve the relevant documents.

The lawyers: "made at least 10 visits to their home and places of work" but all to no avail. Having: "established that they no longer lived there we looked at the other information we had available to us. Email was one way to serve the papers but some people don't check their email regularly.", but then this instance assumes that people check their Facebook accounts more regularly than email?

One of the lawyers involved then decided to search on Facebook for the couple, found them and having explained Facebook to the judge they were allowed to serve via Facebook.

IP Freely strangely is not sure what he thinks about this. He likes the fact that lawyers and the courts are embracing new technologies and are using the ol' brain matter whilst doing so but is concerned about the issue of whether those involved check their accounts. It may well be that the source material (i.e. Times Law) just left this bit out but IP Freely questions whether the judge considered when the couple last logged onto their 'book account.
"What does everyone else think? Would you be happy to receive important legal documents via your Facebook, Myspace or Bebo account?"

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