ACT innovative in legal process world-first

toriness 17 December 2008 6

[First filed: December 13, 2008 @ 11:41]

Perhaps in a move devised to counteract criticism of lax sentencing of our fair Territory’s crims, ACT courts are marking new boundaries in the legal court procedures sphere and serving courts documents via Facebook!

    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 and in the recent Sonny Bill Williams and NRL matter, the court made an order for “substituted service” by allowing certain court documents to be served on Sonny Bill by text message to his mobile phone. But Facebook is a new one.

I wonder how they will precisely be served? Maybe instead of a ‘poke’, it will be a ‘serve’ as in ‘You have been served by Master Harper’ LOL

UPDATED: Since we ran with this on Saturday all the world’s media has jumped aboard. I can’t honestly recall Canberra ever getting so much press.

There’s nothing like a story about Facebook to let journo’s justify their own crackbook habits to their employers.


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6 Responses to ACT innovative in legal process world-first
ns ns 3:53 pm 17 Dec 08

Well the last time Canberra got this much press would have been earlier this year with the kangaroo cull at Lawson.

toriness toriness 2:49 pm 17 Dec 08

reepy and fnaah – i’m pretty sure i read somewhere in one of these related articles that it is acceptable to serve via email already, so facebook really isn’t that different. it’s supposed to be your personal account with your own log-in and password. when people get served in person with documents, do the court officials serving ask for ID to ensure that the person they’re handing the documents to is the person intended to be served? i don’t know – I’m just asking the question.

fnaah fnaah 2:28 pm 17 Dec 08

… on top of which, you really have no proof that the person controlling the account actually is the person you’re looking for.

Welcome to the internet, where men are men, women are lonely balding men, and 14-year-old girls are FBI agents.

reepy reepy 1:52 pm 17 Dec 08

Don’t you have to verify that the defendant has received the court documents? I thought that was why you get another person to actually hand it to them in person and not just chuck it in the post. You cannot verify that they have received it with either SMS or Facebook.

Aeek Aeek 9:16 am 17 Dec 08

Does facebook trap spam? Messages claiming to be from a lawyer are usually spam.

boomacat boomacat 7:18 pm 13 Dec 08

Gasp! About a year ago at a practical legal training course we were discussing the possibilities of serving process by facebook, and lo and behold here it is!!!

Service of process is fraught with the danger of being punched in the face by the recipient of the document. For this reason, service is usually executed by either big burly ex coppers (read: too tough for anyone to even consider punching them in the face) or young women with poison tongues (the idea being either that any decent bloke would never consider punching a girl, with the backup being that these women could tear shreds off the recipient verbally before they even think about any physical activity).

The only time in my legal career that I have ever served process, it was on the owner of an alternative healing and yoga centre. I felt pretty safe that they’d be more likely to invite me in to talk about it over a cup of herbal tea than punch me in the face.

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