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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Service of Process Via Facebook

Earlier this year a judge in Alberta, Canada signed an order allowing a defendant to be served by posting the Notice of the Action to the defendants Facebook account.

This is the third instance of Facebook being allowed/ordered for the Service of Process that I am aware of. First in Australia and the second in New Zealand, both occurred in the last 12 months.

This post comes on the heals of a posting regarding Service of Process via Twitter earlier this week. Clearly judges around the world see social networks as being at least as reliable a means for giving notice if not more so than publication when all other methods have failed. I have to admit that I would agree that in certain circumstances service of process via social-networks or by other electronic means makes more sense than service by publication.

I would not dismiss these recent developments as being a fad or a trend. They are important and I believe they demonstrate that the courts and our customers are more and more willing to consider alternate manners of service that only a few short years ago where unthinkable.

Just this evening I received an email from a fellow process server in Nevada. He wrote that he has realized that his court filing business is all but gone come February of next year because the courts in the 8th Judicial District of Nevada has mandated electronic filing.

He admits knew this day was coming. He also admits that he was not prepared for the reality of it hitting him so soon and so hard. He now finds himself wondering how to adjust his business model in order to survive the changes that are happening around him. He is not alone; process serving companies from Seattle to Philadelphia in the last year have found themselves facing the same dilemma.

The Service of Process has remained largely unchanged for more than 100 years. I believe we are fooling ourselves if we think the act of serving process will not see a dramatic change in the years to come.

My point is we have been talking about eFiling and eService at a national level for more than 10 years. We need start preparing ourselves and our business for these and other challenges if we hope to remain relevant in the digital age.

Are we on our own as we face these challenges or will the state and/or national process server associations lead the way? Do those associations even have a role in addressing these challenges? If so, do they have the talent and where-with-all to help insure the profession remains viable for many years to come?

What do you think?