There has been a recent High Court order made whereby service of Court documents could be conducted through Facebook. This might cause surprise as traditionally there have been very strict rules in terms of the service of documents. By virtue of Irish Law and in particular Constitutional Law, the privacy of each and every individual is always protected. This down through the ages has led to strict rules being laid down in terms of the service of Court documents.
Briefly, the Rules state that an individual must be served at their last known residential address.
By virtue of District and Circuit Court Rules, service can be by either registered post or personal service.
It is of course becoming more and more common for individuals to evade service and therefore it is very often the case that a plaintiff may have to make an application to Court for service by ordinary post. This will yet again involve the plaintiff in further Court appearances and further legal costs.
As High Court proceedings are seen as particularly expensive and difficult, personal service is always required in terms of High Court service of proceedings.
A plaintiff is of course very often met also with the difficulty that a defendant may be out of this jurisdiction and it is possible to obtain an order to have service out of jurisdiction. Yet again, this is an expensive process as it will involve an application to the High Court and really is only justified where the value of the case justifies it.
What is interesting regarding the more recent High Court order is that due to the development of firstly email and secondly social networking sites, the Courts are also expanding their views as to how service can be affected. While the details of this particular case are not yet published, it is understood that the order deems service through Facebook as sufficient. However, this does not mean that a plaintiff can immediately serve documentation through Facebook. There is no doubt that each and every effort must be made with either service by registered post or personal service prior to going to Court and obtaining yet again an order to have service through Facebook. It is a known fact that the Courts have in the past deemed service through email as sufficient.
The detail of this case is yet to be publicised but it is yet again an example of how the development of modern means of communication together with technology is impacting on every aspect of life down to even the service of Court documentation. What is interesting is that individuals may continue to publicise themselves through Facebook or indeed Twitter accounts not realising that these are accessible by not just members of the public but individuals who may be interested in for instance serving Court documentation. There is no doubt that this facet of service of documentation together with the use of the social networking sites will get more exposure in the Courts and it will be very interesting how Judges will react. While many will see the social side of these particular sites, there must be the realisation of the use of these sites for other purposes. Beware!