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Home on the Internet: Facebook, Service, and the Australian Courts


An interesting (but not earth shattering) case from Australia: the court (Master Harper) allowed a mortgage lender to serve the homeowners – at their Facebook page.

Find stories on the web, using these search words (or others of your choosing): australia court service mortgage facebook Canberra

Make sure you read at least a few stories out of Australia, not just the U.S. papers reporting the story. E.g.:

Lawyers to serve notices on Facebook (by, Noel Towell, December 16, 2008 – 10:35AM)
And this one:
Australian court serves documents via Facebook, (by, Nick Abrahams, December 12, 2008):

From the article:
The big question about Facebook is does it have any valuable commercial application? Well it seems that the courts have found one.

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.

Master Harper ordered that the defendants in the case could be validly served by the plaintiff sending a message by computer to the Facebook pages of both defendants informing them of the entry of and the terms of the judgement.

Australian courts are regarded as being amongst the most technologically advanced in the world, and this innovation goes to further that claim.” (link)

If published, the case will appear at the Supreme Court of ACT website, but it’s possible this will be an unpublished order.

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