April 20, 2015

The Court system embraces social media

Digital Wills

Relatively recent innovations include virtual court hearings where proceedings are conducted via video link, and many courts now operate email filing systems for documentation. However, some courts are going further than this and are looking to social media as a valid method for service of documents where other more traditional methods are not successful.

It is true to say that the courts have allowed service of certain processes via social media for a number of years, although these instances have been fairly sporadic and have been allowed in exceptional circumstances. However, the signs are that reliance on social media as a method of service of legal process will increase significantly over the coming months and years and that the courts will become more willing to recognise the importance that social media has within society. A recent example comes from the US, where a court granted permission to a jilted wife to serve her husband with divorce papers via Facebook.

Of course progress often comes at a price and the courts will need to be conscious of the potential reputational harm that might come from the service of a legal process via a posting on Twitter or Facebook. Nevertheless the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks where the courts are satisfied that other means of service have been exhausted and unsuccessful and the prospects of service being received via the social media posting are strong.

Undoubtedly social media is changing the way we live our lives and the courts’ use of this medium is only likely to increase as time goes on. Some may see this as a dangerous development and one which reinforces the increasingly prevalent view that involvement with social media is far from risk free.

Would I use social media to serve legal proceedings? Yes, definitely, as it carries with it a high degree of certainty that the process has been received by the intended party. Social media is more than simply a means to keep in touch and will no doubt play an increasingly significant part in many aspects of society.

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