Annals of the law: Service by Facebook

Judge approves service by Facebook for couple who avoided all other means of receiving court docs.

Where I practice, on the outskirts of the Bay Area, the court has only just approved electronic service to attorneys. Not to parties. And electronic filing with the court is way out in the future. So this AP story from Australia is like news from another planet.

The Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court last Friday approved lawyer Mark McCormack's application to use Facebook to serve the legally binding documents after several failed attempts to contact the couple at the house and by e-mail.

The case is a sign of the times, not just for the use of technology to serve documents – the court has previously approved service by email and text – but for being a foreclosure case. Gordon Poyser, 62, and Carmen Corbo had studiously avoided personal service.

(The couple did talk to the AP, though, explaining that he closed the Facebook account to avoid "every man and his dog having a look." So the process server would be advised to pose as a reporter next time.)

Yes, the Facebook account was closed before lawyer Mark McCormack could do the service by social network. Still the attempt will show that all reasonable efforts had been made to serve and the case will probably go forward.

For its part, Facebook thinks this is all peachy.

We're pleased to see the Australian court validate Facebook as a reliable, secure and private medium for communication. The ruling is also an interesting indication of the increasing role that Facebook is playing in people's lives.