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The big question about Facebook is does it have any valuable commercial application? Well it seems that the courts have found one.
Today in what appears to be a first in Australia and perhaps the world, Master Harper of the ACT Supreme Court ordered that a default judgement could be served on defendants by notification on Facebook.
A default judgement is given by the court where the defendant does not appear in court to defend the case. Once the plaintiff has been awarded the default judgement by the court, the plaintiff must then locate the defendant and serve the judgement on them.
Usually this is done by way of personal service or the mailing of the judgement to the defendant's home. However, service can be difficult where the defendant is not easily located.
Courts do allow service by way of email .[edited].....but Facebook is a new one.
Master Harper ordered that the defendants in the case could be validly served by the plaintiff sending a message by computer to the Facebook pages of both defendants informing them of the entry of and the terms of the judgement.
Read the full article here [smh.com.au...]
So , is this one place less for users to hide ... eh ?
The couple's home is being repossessed after they reportedly missed payments on a loan of over A$100,000 ($67,000; £44,000).
It is believed to be the first time Facebook has been used in this way.
Imagine debt collectors on Facebook !
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.
So actually... the papers were served by email, not via Facebook.
[edited by: jeffgroovy at 11:47 am (utc) on Dec. 16, 2008]
Mark McCormack, a solicitor with Canberra-based firm Meyer Vandenberg who is acting on behalf of the lending institution, said he was unsure whether his approach was a world first but he was not aware of Facebook being used in this way before.
An avid Facebook user himself, Mr McCormack said the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court allowed him to serve the “default judgement” after court papers were also left at the couple’s last known address, where they could not be found. The couple were also contacted via email.
“These are debt collection proceedings,” Mr McCormack told the Financial Times, adding if the couple did not respond within seven days to have the default judgement set aside then his client would seek enforcement procedures to seize the property.
[edited by: Whitey at 11:51 am (utc) on Dec. 16, 2008]
Let me point out that anyone could sign up on Facebook as anyone, there is ZERO validation that you are who you claim you are, therefore you could just as easily claim you were never served because it's simply not you.
I don't see how it could possibly hold up in court.
The courts would be wise to get off the net and stick with "physical addresses and in person communications" asap.
edit: an after thought - Is your internet connection being down the same as evading the law?
[edited by: JS_Harris at 8:42 pm (utc) on Dec. 16, 2008]
My god what are the implications?
"We did a public search based on the email address we had and the defendants Facebook page appeared."
He said that was enough to convince the court, which found Facebook was a sufficient way of communicating legal papers when it is the plaintiff's responsibility to personally deliver documents.
Since when did Facebook become a legal point of presence?
Actually I guess Facebook is being used as sort of a reference point.
This'll be interesting.
[edited by: lawman at 10:21 am (utc) on Dec. 17, 2008]
[edit reason] Fix Style Code [/edit]
...... said that by the time he got the documents approved by the court late Tuesday for transmission, Facebook profiles for the couple had disappeared from public view.
The page was apparently either closed or secured for privacy, following publicity about the court order.
........ Despite the setback, McCormack said the Facebook attempt would help his client's case that all reasonable steps had been taken to serve the couple. A court is expected to settle the matter as early as next week.
..... maybe the internet is faster than the lawyers who use it .
Facebook being American means that it is a genuinely useful tool to law enforcement there at least, where the company and it's application publishers will consider any request for personal information of a user, a compliment and an opening to sit at the National Table of Security.
[edited by: lawman at 3:30 pm (utc) on Dec. 17, 2008]
What does this mean? That email and facebook and what not can only be used as a last resort. A court will not allow an email when the plaintiff could have easily sent a snail mail or made a phone call.
But if email is the only way to serve, it might very well be reasonably calculated under all the circumstances.
Moncao, in the U.S. it may not matter if you know whether the defendant has actually read the email as long as it is reasonably calculated. Say for example, the defendant runs an internet website as his job. On the website is listed an email. It is reasonable to expect that since he runs this website and does business through email, then he will get this email.
What about facebook? Well, if after all the efforts they cannot find a way to contact the defendant, and then can find him on facebook with absolute certainty (information in the profile may verify it is the actual person), then that may very well be reasonably calculated. Would you have to prove they actually read it? No, not if they use facebook a lot, have recently made updates to their profile (especially after receiving service of process), etc. Facebook itself may be able to help and give the time of the last known activity of the defendant on facebook. Someone who rarely uses facebook, however, would presumably be less convincing to the courts.