Facebook + lazy lawyers = Oh Crap.

OK, so there you are having a drink. A drink with an unbrella. Minding your own business. And checking out your Facebook page.

And suddenly….

A High Court judge today approved the serving of court papers via Facebook, the popular social network website, in what is thought to be a New Zealand first.

The High Court in Wellington was told that Axe Market Garden is trying to sue Craig Axe who is alleged to have taken $241,000 from the firm account.

Counsel for the company Daniel Vincent said the plaintiff was effectively Axe’s father John and there were difficulties in serving papers on his son.

[Plaintiff] asked Justice David Gendall if he would take the unusual step of approving a secondary service order on Axe via Facebook …

Justice Gendall did not bat an eyelid in the court room when approving the order after being assured that newspaper adverts could not be effectively targeted…

… continued …

Comments

  1. #1 Rowan
    March 17, 2009

    This is absurd. Given the ability of people to spoof an identity how can they realistically consider this to be a legal service of court documents?

  2. #2 Ian
    March 17, 2009

    Well, it’s a father suing his own son. It seems reasonable that he would know whether it’s his son’s real Facebook page or not. And since the son is out of the country, and they don’t quite know where he is… Odd, yes, but I’m not sure that it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

  3. #3 John Pieret
    March 17, 2009

    Just to put this in perspective, in the US such service might be made instead by “publication,” which means putting a “notice” in a couple of newspapers. The notice is about the size and type face of a want ad, nestled in amongst hundreds of other such notices, that only the most anal people ever read. Posting something to a Facebook page that there is any reason to believe actually belongs to the person is far more likely to give actual notice to the person than publication will.

  4. #4 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 17, 2009

    John, I was under the impression that notices are far more broad issues than this. One could not for example use a newspaper notice to serve a subpoena or that you had filed a lawsuit against a someone. Am I incorrect?

  5. #5 grasshopper
    March 18, 2009

    Kiwis are so behind the times. Such a use for Facebook was applied in Australia last year.

  6. #6 John Pieret
    March 18, 2009

    Joshua:

    No, service of a summons and complaint, which starts a lawsuit, can be made by publication. It is a method of last resort, however, and can only be done after convincing a court that you have used “due diligence” to serve the person by one of the other acceptable methods, which appears to have been the case here.

    It’s basically a method to start a lawsuit against someone who has absconded.

    A subpoena would be a different matter and, while I’ve never had occasion to research it, I doubt that a subpoena could be served by publication.

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