UK court summons can now be served via Facebook

No fixed abode, on the run, and evading the authorities? Not to worry. UK courts can now summon you to face trial through Facebook.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Social media has played an important role in the modern justice system in the UK as of late. Not just used by consumers and users, ordinary folk and businesses, the UK judiciary is recognising the power that social media harnesses.

From allowing the live-tweeting of trials --- considering cameras are not allowed in any UK court room, this was a major step --- to the Supreme Court launching its own Twitter account.

But now the UK courts are going one step further by serving court summons papers via Facebook. I kid you not.


Mr. Justice Teare gave the green light to do so. As the Telegraphreports, such a mechanism is used in many other jurisdictions around the world, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

While it will most likely not be a common occurrence, it was used by the High Court to serve court summons papers to a defendant who was particularly difficult to get hold of. The landmark ruling now opens the doors for the serving of papers in similar cases.

In 2009, Mr. Justice Lewison allowed a court-ordered injunction to be served against someone via Twitter, where the defendant was only known by his Twitter username. Though Twitter breeds an air of anonymity against its users, his real name was not known, nor anything about the user. The Twitter user was ultimately barred from using the same name as political writer Donal Blaney.

But as so many Facebook accounts are clamped down in the wake of the Timeline feature rollout, it can hardly be used as an effective means of serving a court order summons or outcome; nor can Twitter be for that matter.

And, presumably, for the person who gets to slyly walk past someone in a trench-coat and slap them with papers whilst exclaiming, "you've been served!", it takes all the fun out of it.

Image source: Spencer Holtaway/Flickr.


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