This was inevitable – and welcome, compared with more traditional (and prohibitively expensive) means of serving legal documents. (I’d rather sit next to Geoffrey Leonard on a long bus trip than arrange for service by newspaper ad again.)
An Ontario judge has urged lawyers to be creative with electronic methods of service after allowing a litigant to do it using Facebook in a family law case.
The Facebook case involved a paternity action in which the mother was unable to track down an address for the father.
She was, however, able to find him on Facebook and sent him a message with documents attached. His reply, which was then attached to an affidavit as an exhibit in court, was enough to convince Robertson to issue an order that service was effected.
Eugene Meehan, chairman of the Supreme Court practice group at Lang Michener LLP, says it’s the first time he’s seen Facebook used as a method of substituted service.
“In the world of Facebook, MySpace [that still around? – DP] and texting, it’s a real development. It brings the law completely and fully up to date in terms of service.”
Meehan expects the trend to persist as social media continues to play a pivotal role in the lives of litigants and lawyers alike. “It’s just the reality today,” he says. “When you walk out in the street, how many people do you see texting?”