Facebook – the social media entity popular with everyone from teenagers and grannies used for general chit-chat, to post recent holiday snaps and to update ‘friends’ on the more commonplace events of general life. Facebook is also open for other uses…
On a recent claim to recover an unlawful preference, one insolvency practitioner was directed to serve an order on Mr X before he could recover a particular asset.
The enquiry agent had been unable to pinpoint Mr X’s address and to make matters more difficult, had advised that personal service was impossible as Mr X had an identical twin – even if they did manage to locate someone looking like Mr X – they could not certify it was definitely him!
Mr X (and his identical twin) did have a Facebook account. A rather novel application was made to the court requesting that service of the court order could be made by sending the order to all three of Mr X’s last known addresses by first class post and additionally, by sending a private Facebook message with an attachment of the court order to the Facebook account of Mr X.
In this particular case, it helped that Mr X did not have high privacy settings for his Facebook profile. Mr X’s profile was available for all to see – showing that his profile picture had been recently changed, depicting recent if not regular use of his Facebook account.
There is precedent for this: Hastings County Court granted permission for a court order to be served on a defendant via Facebook in March 2011 and the High Court in London also permitted an order to be served via Twitter in October 2009.
In these circumstances, the Court ordered that service would be deemed to have taken place two business days after the Facebook message was sent to Mr X, allowing sufficient time for Mr X to access his Facebook account and view the order.
Although this way of service may not be appropriate in every case, it illustrates the Courts’ readiness to adapt to the age of social media and is therefore certainly worth remembering to check out relevant social media profiles if a different option for service is required.