Is getting sued today on your mind, Facebook user?
The reports that a High Court judge in England has approved the use of Facebook to serve legal claims. The case: two investment managers against a brokerage firm they believe overcharged them.
Justice Nigel Teare approved the use of Facebook after it became increasingly difficult to track down Fabio De Biase, one of the former traders and ex-brokers involved in the case. Papers were left at his last known address, but it was unclear whether or not he still lived there. The lawyers did not have Mr. De Biase's email address either, so they figured Facebook would be the next easiest place to locate him. They knew he was active because he had recently accepted friend requests.
"It's a fairly natural progression. A High Court judges has already ruled that an injunction can be served via Twitter, so it's a hop, skip and a jump away from that to allow claims to be served via Facebook," said Jenni Jenkins, a lawyer at Memery Crystal who is also representing one of the parties in the case.
Serving papers via Facebook may be new in England, but it is already happening in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
Twitter is way ahead on this whole paper-serving trend, however. In 2009, the High Court gave permission for an injunction to be served via Twitter. The anonymous user was known only through his Twitter handle, who tweeted under the same handle as a right-wing political blogger. The court demanded that the user reveal his real identity and cease tweeting as Donal Blaney, a blogger at Blaney's Blarney.
"The rules already allow for electronic service of some documents so that they can be sent by e-mail, and it should also be possible to use social networks," Danvers Baillieu, a solicitor specializing in technology, told the BBC.
And just in case you were wondering: What you share on social networks can be used against you. In fact, it probably will be.