Facebook service held to be valid by Australian court

January 2009

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I was recently asked about service by MySpace where a US band’s attorney had sent a cease and desist letter to a UK band they claimed had a similar sounding name. I have to admit I wasn’t sure this was effective service of any sort and I could not find any precedents on the matter. Now and in what may be a first, lawyers have pursuaded a judge in the Australian Canberra’s Supreme Court to allow them to serve the documents over the internet after repeatedly failing to serve the papers in person. Carmel Rita Corbo and Gordon Poyser had allegedly failed to keep up repayments on a $150,000 (£44,000) loan they had borrowed from MKM Capital, a mortgage provider. The pair had ignored emails from the law firm and did not attend a court appearance on Oct 3 and claimants said the pair had “vanished”. The claimant’s lawyer, Mark McCormack said “It’s somewhat novel, however we do see it as a valid method of bringing the matter to the attention of the defendant” and insisted there was no other way to find the pair saying “They weren’t available at their residence. They no longer worked at the place given in some documents as the last place of their employment” adding the detail on the Facebook site including the couple’s dates of birth “was enough to satisfy the court that Facebook was a sufficient method of communicating with the defendants”. In granting permission to use the social networking site, the judge stipulated that the papers be sent via a private email so that other people visiting the page could not read their contents. The Telegraph reports that courts have previously allowed judgments to be delivered by email, but it is not known if Facebook or other social networking sites have been used in the same way.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/3793491/Australian-couple-served-with-legal-documents-via-Facebook.html

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