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Monday, June 14, 2010

Superpoked and Served: Service of Process via Social Networking Sites

Whether professional process servers like it or not increasingly courts worldwide are leveraging technology and social media outlets to provide parties with a method of service that is reasonably calculated to provide actual notice over other forms of alternative service. I submit that this trend is part of a natural evolution of the Service of Process and that service by electronic means is more reliable and predictable than Service by Publication or by the Postal Service.

In 2009 the University of Richmond Law Review Article was published regarding the use of Social Networks to affect Service of Process. I have to admit that I somehow missed its publication. It is yet another example of logical and practical thinking coming from the legal community related to the evolution of Service of Process.

The following are a few key points made in the Law Review article I found worthy of mentioning here...

The fact that the Hague Convention does not expressly permit service of process through social networking sites is not detrimental; the Convention does not expressly permit service through other technological means such as fax and e-mail, but these methods have been approved by a number of courts and were even endorsed by the Hague Commission.

Rule 4 - Courts have held that service of process can be effectuated by electronic means when foreign defendants are evasive. At least one commentator has suggested that electronic service should be permitted in domestic cases, even though doing so would require amending the current Federal Rules. Absent an amendment to the Federal Rules, the only logical prong under which service of process via Facebook might suffice is Rule 4(f).

Technological advancement often presents difficult barriers for courts to overcome in the application of traditional law,” but service of process is “so fundamental to the operation of law that historically [it has] been more open to adaptability and change.” Courts are beginning to find electronic service constitutionally permissible under Mullane, and the trend toward electronic service is “a logical step forward in the evolution of civil procedure and reflects the popular use of new technologies in common communication.” Facebook is one such new technology.
If you would like to read the entire law review article I have posted it to my Google documents page that can be found here.